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Claudio Ranieri‘s first match in charge of Watford suggested that it could be a long and difficult season, with the Hornets losing 5-0 at home to the Reds, but the Italian managed to lead his side to a 5-2 win over Everton at Goodison Park last weekend to boost confidence at Vicarage Road.
Watford have an incredibly difficult run of matches coming up, taking on Arsenal, Manchester United, Leicester City, Chelsea and Manchester City in five straight fixtures after the clash with Southampton, which is an indication of the importance of this weekend’s contest against one of the teams around them in the table.
A record of three wins, one draw and five defeats from nine matches has seen the Hornets collect 10 points, which has left them in 14th spot in the table, six points above the relegation zone.
Watford have not won at Vicarage Road since the opening weekend of the season, though, collecting just one point from their last three home league fixtures against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Newcastle and Liverpool.
The Hertfordshire outfit have won just one of their last 13 league meetings with Southampton, meanwhile, and lost both games against the Saints when they locked horns during the 2019-20 Premier League campaign.
Watford boss Ranieri revealed during Thursday’s pre-match press conference that Danny Rose is available for selection after recovering from the calf problem that forced him to miss out against Everton.
Kiko Femenia remains a doubt, though, while Francisco Sierralta, Christian Kabasele and Peter Etebo will all miss out through injury, and Emmanuel Dennis will be absent through suspension due to his booking last time out.
Despite Rose’s return, Adam Masina could retain his spot at left-back, and there is every chance that Ranieri will select the same XI from the victory at Goodison Park, with Juan Hernandez and Ismaila Sarr playing either side of Joshua King, who netted three times against the Toffees.
As for Southampton, Armando Broja has been ruled out of the contest due to the ankle problem that the forward picked up in the draw with Burnley last weekend, so Che Adams could start through the middle.
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Jack Stephens is also still out with a knee problem, while Mohamed Elyounoussi remains a doubt with a wrist injury, but James Ward-Prowse is available again after a suspension.
Ward-Prowse is expected to come straight back into the away side’s XI on Saturday, while Stuart Armstrong could be handed a spot in a wide area, with Nathan Redmond potentially joining Adams in attack despite the availability of Adam Armstrong.
Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Ngakia, Troost-Ekong, Cathcart, Masina; Sarr, Kucka, Sissoko, Tufan, Hernandez; King
Southampton possible starting lineup:
McCarthy; Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Perraud; S Armstrong, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Djenepo; Redmond, Adams