A Boxing Day trip to Vicarage Road is the time and the place where Forest will offer up their unbeaten credentials to be tested by troubled Watford. Our hosts have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons with boardroom wrangles that has possibly started to affect matters on the pitch for them, losing four of their last five games – including against the Sheep!
So the team we visit is certainly a different proposition to the side that stung us 4-2 at the City Ground earlier this season – gosh, a bleak day that was! A nice reminder at how quickly fortunes can change, if nothing else! But whilst Watford have recently undergone the ignomity of losing to Derby and Peterborough, they have also turned over QPR by 3-1, so not a team to be underestimated.
The Reds are still just without the mysteriously-still-injured Guy Moussi and long-term casualty Julian Bennett, which will leave Billy with the usual poser on who to select for the game. He was also boosted (in my opinion) by the news that Paul Smith has signed a two year extension to his contract with the club, whilst Lee Camp has been in sparkling form of late – it’s great to both have cover, and keep the pressure on the number one!
Watford’s key man is midfielder Tom Cleverley – he’s on loan from Manchester United and unfortunately for us will still be at Watford. Whether their financial predicament will allow them to extend the loan which expires in January is unclear – but as well as scoring against us at the City Ground he’s struck six more goals for the Horns and just from watching The Football League show it’s clear he’s had a big impact.
Forest have sold their allocation of tickets to people presumably to escape the turkey sandwiches and familial overload on Boxing Day, so the M1 will be awash with Reds eager to make good time to Watford for a 12:00 noon kick off. By all accounts the home tickets are selling very well too, so it bodes to be a decent crowd at Vicarage Road which should make for a good post-Christmas trip!
I’ve all but given up on making predictions – as ever though, our opponents are not to be underestimated – and they certainly won’t be underestimating us. Billy is likely to start with a more cautious eleven as seems to be his modus operandi away from the City Ground – or maybe he’ll surprise me. I half expect to see a bit of 4-5-1 converting to 4-3-3 on the break – with a substitute’s bench bristling with attacking options.
So all that really remains for me is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, given the kick off time a Watford report should be forthcoming at some point on the evening of Boxing Day. I think I’ll wait ’til after the Coventry game before entertaining the idea of some kind of self-indulgent reflections on the year just gone kind of piffle. Or maybe I won’t! See you in Watford!
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