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In opposition: Watford v Burnley

27 March 2013

One of the big matches in the npower Championship this week sees Burnley boss Sean Dyche visit his old club Watford, who are fighting for promotion at the top of the division.

It will be an interesting reunion at Vicarage Road and here, we preview the encounter with the help of a fan from each club.


Name: Joe Etchells.

Club: Watford.

Number of years as a supporter: 20.

Favourite moment as a fan: The 1999 Play-Off Final at the Old Wembley when we beat Bolton Wanderers 2-0 courtesy of goals from Nicky Wright, with the famous overhead kick, and Allan Smart.

How many games a season do you attend? During the last few seasons I've only managed about 10 per season due to work and family commitments in the Midlands but I used to be a season ticket holder and attended every home game and about half of the away games. I have sent off for a '75-mile season ticket' for next season, which gives me rights to 65% of home games irrespective of what division we're in - let's hope it's the Premier League.

Where do you sit? Usually in the Rookery End.

Name: Matt Hall.

Club: Burnley.

Number of years as a supporter: 23.

Favourite moment as a fan: Promotion to the Premier League via the Play-Offs at Wembley.

How many games a season do you attend? 20-25.

Where do you sit? Behind the goal in the upper tier of the Jimmy McIlroy Stand.



What happened in your last match?

JE: I wasn't able to attend, but by all accounts we were out fought on a poor pitch, where we were unable to ease into our usual fluid style of play. According to the match report and from what I gleaned by flicking through twitter during and after the match, Barnsley seemed to want the win more than we did and, despite having less of the ball, were able to carve out the better chances.

MH: Just the small matter of an East Lancashire derby against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. After taking the lead through captain Jason Shackell in the 32nd minute, we were cruelly denied a win over our neighbours by a 95th-minute equaliser from David Dunn. Hard to take after replays showed he was a clear two yards offside - the 34-year wait for that elusive win over 'them lot down the road' has to wait until next season. That's if Rovers stay up, of course!

Why is this game important?

JE: First and foremost, the game against Burnley is important because we come into it having lost two games on the bounce for the first time since the early part of the season, and it's crucial that we get back to winning ways in order to rejuvenate our bid to achieve that coveted second automatic promotion slot behind the runaway leaders, Cardiff City.

Of course, the other major talking point about this particular match is the return of Sean Dyche, who not only did an excellent job in guiding last year's thin squad of players to 11th in the Championship in his first season as a manager, but he was also a successful assistant to Malky Mackay and did a good job as reserve/youth team manager, too. He was also a pretty decent centre-half for us a decade or so ago back in the Ray Lewington era.

Let's be honest - the way in which Dyche was removed from his post last summer was deplorable and for that, and only that, the Pozzos should hang their heads in shame. However, with the shrewd appointment of Gianfranco Zola and with it the influx of talented players and new brand of free-flowing football, they have more than redeemed themselves. I am a big fan of Dychey and I wish him every success at Burnley, although I reserve this sentiment until after Good Friday. We need the points!

MH: I would expect Sean Dyche to get a good reception on Friday from the Watford fans. He was unlucky to be relieved of his duties when he did a solid job there last season. For Watford, they will be looking at this as a home banker. We've won once in our last 10 games and are desperately short of goals, scoring just seven in those matches. We have started to slide down the table since February and, after starting to look upwards at a possible Play-Off place, we are now starting to look over our shoulders a bit. I don't for one moment think we will be sucked into a relegation fight, but having said that we desperately need a win as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I don't think that will happen on Friday as Watford have been in great form and are right in the mix for an automatic promotion place. A draw would be a great result for us, and a bad one for them.

How do you see this game going?

JE: I think the way the match goes depends entirely on our lads, because generally speaking we have better and more technically gifted players at our disposal that Burnley do. However, what can often happen at Vicarage Road is that the opposition will look to get in our faces, rattle us and do whatever they can do prevent us from getting our passing and moving style going.

This is precisely how we ended up losing at home to Hull City and Middlesbrough - both currently higher in the table than Burnley, therefore I see no reason why they will set their stall out to be any different. I feel that if we can overcome the potentially physical approach and get our own game together, we can slowly begin to dominate and I think it is vital that we get the first goal of the game, because I've seen some of the lads' heads drop on occasions when we go behind.

MH: Although we aren't scoring many goals, we aren't conceding many either. The one thing that Sean Dyche has done is shore up our leaky defence. I would expect Watford to take the initiative at home and take the game to us. In the past, though, this has worked in our favour and Watford will have to be wary of our threat on the break. We definitely seem to play better when teams attack us, leaving the counter attack on.

Who should we keep our eye on?

JE: All eyes will be on Matej Vydra seeing as he's just won the Player of the Year award, and deservedly so, but it is Swiss international Almen Abdi who really makes the side tick and when he's on his game, we generally play well, create chances and prevent the opposition from gaining a foothold in the game. I'd also recommend looking out for Marco Cassetti and Cristian Battocchio.

MH: I expect our goalkeeper Lee Grant will have a busy afternoon and I think most Clarets would agree he has been one of our most improved players this season. Obviously top scorer Charlie Austin is the one to look out for. God knows where we would be without his goals.

Any memories of previous encounters?

JE: Two stand out, and they're both from the same season. We played Burnley at home in the FA Cup quarter-finals back in 2003 and won 2-0. This victory took us through to play Southampton at Villa Park in the semis that year, where we lost 2-1. And only a month or so after that, we hammered them 7-4 up at Turf Moor in the league - Michael Chopra, on loan from Newcastle United at the time, bagging four of our goals.

MH: I've been to Vicarage Road a few times and recall an FA Cup quarter-final between the two teams in 2003. We turned up with a gameplan of playing for a draw and taking them back to Turf Moor. From memory it was a pretty dire match and they scored twice in the second half, booking their semi-final place at Wembley against Southampton.

Score prediction?

JE: 3-1 Watford.

MH: Head says 2-0 Watford. Heart says 1-0 Burnley.

For all the latest news on Watford please click here

For all the latest news on Burnley please click here

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