After losing to Crystal Palace in last season’s play-off final, Watford are one of the favourites for promotion. Ahead of Sunday’s televised meeting at Vicarage Road, Michael Moruzzi from Regista blog tells us what to expect from the home side…

What are your expectations for 2013-14?

I’ve been watching Watford for around 20 years and this the best squad we’ve had in that time, probably by some distance. I’m well aware that pride comes before a fall, but I’d be kidding myself to say I wasn’t excited by Watford’s prospects this season. And by excited I mean skipping down the road, leaping in the air and clicking my heels with glee. Our methods have been criticised, but this team play attacking football with plenty of skill and a very heavy emphasis on goals (10 in their first three league games, plus another three in the League Cup). This is not the norm at Watford, I intend to enjoy it while it lasts.

What’s the fans’ general opinion of Gianfranco Zola?

As you’d expect, he’s universally loved. If you wanted to find fault, you could question the performance in the play-off final when several of our players seemed to freeze. But the semi-final against Leicester that preceded it was one of the most intensely exciting occasions Vicarage Road has ever seen, with a climax that is unlikely to ever be matched. Also, while no one doubts Zola would like a shot at a bigger club one day, he conducts himself with an endearing enthusiasm for Watford. And he’s bloody Zola for Christ’s sake. At Watford!

Have there been many changes since last season?

I’m sure Forest fans will be pleased to see the back of Matěj Vydra — I think he scored four times against you last year. Nathaniel Chalobah has returned to Chelsea but, other than those two, the core of the side has been retained and more talent has been brought in from Watford’s sister clubs Udinese and Granada. Some of the more eye-catching new recruits include the young Italian forward Diego Fabrini, who has been capped by the national team, and Iriney Santos, an experienced Brazilian midfielder who spent 11 seasons in Spain. Ten years ago our main signing was Bruce Dyer on a free from Barnsley. Things done changed.

What can we expect tactically?

Three in defence with wing-backs. A classic mid- to late-90s formation that blossomed in England around the same time as Embrace, Dodgy and Asian Dub Foundation. Not a good cultural reference point, but the formation suits Watford. We can’t seem to play any other system.

 

Who are the key players to watch out for?

Troy Deeney has started the season in full Beast Mode and is reportedly being watched by Spurs. Last season’s Player of the Year (voted for by supporters) is playmaker Almen Abdi, who often stands out at this level. I’d expect Forest fans will be looking out for Lewis McGugan, who has slotted into the midfield very well and made a strong start to his Watford career. Of the others, I really like Gabriele Angella (another newbie) — a giant centre-back with an eye for goal (he’s already scored three times this season). Also, wideman Ikechi Anya might be erratic, but he’s one of the few players in Watford’s squad with genuine pace and is a very important outlet when we look to counter.

What’s going to happen on Sunday?

Last weekend away at Reading was the toughest test so far, but I expect Forest will be really up for this game, and it’ll be interesting to see how they approach the game. After what we did to Bournemouth (a 6-1 win) I expect away teams will be wary of allowing us too much space, but they will also be encouraged by our goals against column. I’m sure Davies will have a plan to exploit that, and this will be much closer than our encounters last season. An entertaining score draw: 2-2.

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And Regista is very much worth a read.

Image: By Brakspear at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons