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Watford vs Stoke – Match Preview

Watford will assess striker Odion Ighalo, who has been troubled by a muscular problem in training this week.

Boss Quique Sanchez Flores says Ighalo is one of “three of four” players set for late fitness tests, while Miguel Britos and Joel Ekstrand are ruled out.

Stoke pair Ryan Shawcross and Xherdan Shaqiri are out after suffering respective back and thigh problems.

Eric Pieters’ calf injury will be assessed but Phil Bardsley should be able to return from a similar problem.

Editor’s Note: Watford’s Premier League form hasn’t been all that great as of late with just two wins in their last 10 matches. That subsequent downturn in form has seen them fall to 14th in the table, they’ve done just enough to stay up but could do with one more win just to make it a certainty.

It’s a good thing that they had such a good start to the season as otherwise the next 8 games could have been a lot more nervy, it’s fair to say that the momentum of their season has seen a massive downturn as of late. It’s not quite crisis for Manager Quique Sanchez Flores but I would imagine he won’t want the season to end on a whimper.

That may be the case in the League but they’ve assured themselves of at least one Wembley trip this season as they knocked out holders Arsenal of the F.A. Cup last Sunday. Their reward is a Semi Final against Crystal Palace and there is absolutely no reason why they can’t go all the way to the Final.

One team that did go all the way back in 2010 are their opponents Today Stoke. Their season has been a solid if slightly unspectacular one. Always in the top half of the table but never quite in the race for a European place, it’s been a season of nearly for Mark Hughes’s side.

Their league form which has seen them not quite have that extra edge is coupled with reaching the Capital One Cup Semi Finals and losing to Liverpool on Penalties. Of course it hasn’t been a bad season for Stoke but you get the feeling that the bad run of results they had when Ryan Shawcross was injured has stopped them from potentially achieving even more.

Last time out Southampton all but put the death knell in their Europa League chances especially with the Semi Finalists all bar one being below them in the table so it looks like only 6th position will actually get you into next season’s competition.

Watford need a win and Stoke’s season is all but done. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Watford used last Sunday’s win as momentum to get over the line and complete a job well done but Stoke will be a hard side to beat. I reckon it will be a draw.

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