How would you assess Watford’s season so far?
They’ve done better than most people expected, but maybe not better than those inside the club expected. There was a belief in pre-season that a lot of people were going to underestimate Watford. That’s how the players felt, because they all felt they were good enough and that Watford had recruited well. Maybe they didn’t expect to be top half at this stage, but they didn’t expect to be struggling in the bottom three. Second half of the season I think will be harder, just because teams will know a little bit more what to expect, but still stopping Watford is going to be a difficult challenge.
What is their current form like?
Christmas was a bit weird, because they played Liverpool and pretty much demolished them – 3-0 – then they went to Chelsea and got a draw, and then they lost 2-1 against Tottenham and Manchester City. But against Spurs they conceded the winning goal in the 89th minute, which was subsequently shown to be offside and against City they outplayed them for 80 minutes and then Yaya Touré and Sergio Agüero turned up and scored two excellent goals. So they took on very good teams and weren’t outplayed by any of them.
What is Watford’s style of play, and is there any difference to their approach when they are away from home?
No, there’s not really at all. They’ve got more points away this season than they have got at home. Away from home they’re actually given a bit more space, because teams have to try and go out a bit more at them. Their gameplan is fairly simple, in terms of they are defensively very good. That was the first thing [Quique Sánchez] Flores did when he came in, was to make sure they were hard to beat. They get the ball forward fairly quickly to [Troy] Deeney and [Odion] Ighalo and then they will either chase after it, or Deeney will hold it up and then look to play Ighalo in. It’s not fancy, fancy football, but it’s very effective what they’ve been doing. By no means are they just a long ball side, but they know their greatest strength is Deeney and Ighalo, so they just look to get them the ball quickly and let them try and create chances. It’s simple, but very effective.
Who are Watford’s danger men?
Deeney and Ighalo. It’s not a hard one. Troy’s got seven in 12 now, and Ighalo’s got 14 this season. Both keep getting linked with big clubs, but neither of them will go in January. They are the main threat and there hasn’t really been a side since the Swansea game (in September) that’s been able to keep them quiet over 90 minutes.
How do you see the game going?
I think it will be quite close. Southampton’s form hasn’t been great recently. I’d say 1-1. I think Watford will play their usual game and Southampton need to get something.