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The unfamiliar sound of West Ham United supporters booing their own player may have disrupted Watford’s momentum somewhat, as the Hammers’ controversial decision to play Kurt Zouma after the centre-back slapped and kicked his pet cat dominated the pre-match talk.
Roy Hodgson’s side did hold their own against the Champions League contenders and had chances of their own to take all three points back to Vicarage Road, but a deflected effort from Jarrod Bowen ultimately settled the contest in West Ham’s favour.
Despite the defeat, Watford’s progress on the defensive side of the game since Hodgson’s arrival has been evident, but that has done little to improve their rankings, with the Hornets occupying 19th spot in the table ahead of this tie – three points adrift of safety.
The 1-0 defeat at the London Stadium marked Watford’s third Premier League game on the bounce without a goal and their 10th without victory since that historic 4-1 thumping of Manchester United back in November, but Hodgson can certainly take the positives from his opening fortnight in the dugout.
However, the Hornets welcome Brighton to Vicarage Road having lost each of their last five at home in the Premier League – collecting a league-low seven points on their own soil and conceding a league-high 25 goals – and Brighton are nothing if not resilient on the road.
Watford may be able to welcome Africa Cup of Nations winner Ismaila Sarr back to the fold this week as Hodgson desperately seeks some attacking bite, but he may only be considered for minutes off the bench.
Rob Elliot and Nicolas Nkoulou remain out of contention, but there is hope that Peter Etebo and Kwadwo Baah might be fit enough for places in the squad to face the Seagulls.
Hodgson is unlikely to consider many changes after a respectable showing at the London Stadium, but Joao Pedro and new signing Samuel Kalu provide alternative options in the final third.
As for Brighton, Potter hopes to have Alexis Mac Allister and Leandro Trossard back in the fold after illnesses, but Enock Mwepu and Jeremy Sarmiento remain in the treatment room.
Potter has no fresh concerns from the Tottenham loss and is one of the rare managers to have enjoyed a full week without competitive action, which should see the majority of players from last week retained.
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Shane Duffy and Joel Veltman are both options if Potter decides that Lewis Dunk‘s fitness needs to be carefully managed, and Adam Lallana should be fine to go again after a precautionary change at half time in the cup.
Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Femenia, Cathcart, Samir, Kamara; Kucka, Sissoko, Kayembe; Kalu, King, Dennis
Brighton & Hove Albion possible starting lineup:
Sanchez; Lamptey, Dunk, Webster, Cucurella; Bissouma, Lallana, Moder; Gross; Maupay, Welbeck