Date: August 9, 2014
Venue: Vicarage Road, Watford
Kick-off time: 3.00 pm BST
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Two promotion hopefuls face off at Vicarage Road in the opening weekend of the Championship season as Watford host Bolton. The visitors will be hoping for a repeat of last season’s corresponding fixture, which they won 1-0.
Watford finished a disappointing 13th in the league last season, bookended by a terrible run of four straight defeats. They will be hoping to challenge for the playoff spots this time and are among the promotion favourites in what is traditionally a very tight league.
Their friendly form hasn’t been particularly impressive, with just one win in six games. Their last game, however, was an encouraging two all draw against Serie A perennials Udinese.
Bolton also underachieved last season, finishing one place below Watford in 14th. They had been tipped by many to return to the Premier League at the second time of asking but a terrible start to the season, when they were winless for their first ten games, put paid to that early on.
They have had a mixed pre-season, with three wins, three draws and two defeats.
Key Players/Team News
Watford have brought back Matej Vydra on loan, the young Czech striker who impressed at Vicarage Road two seasons ago when he was the Championship Player of the Year.
Last season’s top scorer Troy Deeney and the impressive Lewis McGugan will also be expected to be among the goals this season.
Defender Craig Cathcart, signed from Blackpool in the off-season, and midfielder Sean Murray are out with injury, while Keith Andrews cannot play against his parent club.
None of their players registered double figures in the league last year and they will need that to change if they are to achieve their promotion ambitions. The player they will rely on for goals will be Jermaine Beckford, while Lee Chung-yong, former Liverpool man Jay Spearing and Neil Danns will all be expected to contribute from midfield.
Mark Davies will be missing through injury.
I expect Watford to trouble the promotion places this season, with Bolton to once again fall short. A Watford win here is 2.1 with bet365 although I will also look at 3.5 with BetVictor on Watford leading at half time and full time.