Sunderland face Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon knowing that anything else than a victory could destroy any survival hopes this season.


Both teams are experiencing a terrible run of form as Watford have failed to pick up a Premier League win in their last four matches whereas Sunderland haven’t scored in four consecutive league games.


There’s no doubt that Sunderland need the three points more than their opponents, however should the Hornets fail to win, they could be dragged into a relegation battle come the end of the season.


Sunderland v Watford - Premier League

Classic Encounter (Watford 2-2 Sunderland, May 2016)


In the final matchday of last season’s Premier League, Sunderland travelled to Hertfordshire having just sealed survival for another year - condemning arch rivals Newcastle to relegation to the Championship.


Watford were celebrating the fact that they secured a second consecutive season in the Premier League for the first time in their history. The Hornets fans also came out to thank the outgoing manager Quique Sanchez Flores for his excellent season with the club.

Watford v Sunderland - Premier League

Despite numerous changes to the starting XI, Sunderland took the lead through Jack Rodwell. Defender Sebastian Prodl equalised just after the interval but the away side hit back straight away with a goal from Jeremain Lens. Watford skipper Troy Deeney tucked away a penalty just after the hour mark to level the scoring for a second - and final - time.


Unbeknown to everyone at the time, it was to be Sam Allardyce’s final match in charge of the Black Cats - the veteran being appointed England manager in the summer.

Sunderland v Everton - Premier League


Key Battles


Troy Deeney vs John O’Shea


It’s not fair to solely single out John O’Shea but given his experience, he will be the one to make sure that Troy Deeney doesn’t bully the Sunderland defence.


The Republic of Ireland international picked a slight knock whilst playing for his country last week but he should be fit enough to feature this weekend. O’Shea will know that Deeney is not the quickest so he’ll need to use all of his defensive prowess to limit his involvement in the build up play.

Watford v West Ham United - Premier League

Despite a slow start, Deeney has gradually found his feet and he’s starting to look like a Premier League player in only his second season in the English top flight. The English striker scored against Sunderland last season at Vicarage Road and should he do so again this weekend, it will be his 10th goal in all competitions this campaign.


Younes Kaboul vs Jermain Defoe


This is going to be a very intriguing battle. Both Kaboul and Defoe have been teammates at Tottenham and Sunderland therefore both should understand each other’s games inside out. It’s fair to say that Kaboul hasn’t been Watford’s best defender this season but he’ll need to put on a fine display in order to prevent Defoe from having an impact on Saturday.


It’s been a sensational week for Defoe. The 34-year-old striker was called into the national squad for last week’s fixtures and he opened the scoring in the World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley.

However, Defoe has failed to score in his last four matches in the Premier League and he has never scored against Watford in the league.


Team News & Predicted Lineups


The biggest injury concern for the home side is the absence of veteran midfielder Valon Behrami who will miss this weekend’s match due to a hamstring injury. With the likes of Ben Watson and Mauro Zarate also out through injury, Mazzarri might opt to pick Jose Holebas in the midfield 

role.

Watford v Burnley - Premier League

Sunderland have struggled with injuries throughout their miserable season but David Moyes is likely to select the same starting line that featured in the 0-0 draw against Burnley two weeks ago.


Watford Predicted XI: Gomes, Cathcart, Prodl, Kaboul, Britos, Capoue, Cleverley, Holebas, Niang, Deeney, Okaka


Sunderland Predicted XI: Pickford, Jones, Denayer, O’Shea, Oviedo, Gibson, Rodwell, Larsson, Januzaj, Defoe, Borini


Prediction


The visitors can take solace in the fact that Watford have conceded more goals than they have scored at home this season, not to mention beating the Hornets 1-0 at the Stadium of Light in December.

FBL-ENG-PR-CRYSTAL PALACE-WATFORD

Watford will feel that this is the perfect chance to get back on track in the league against a Sunderland side who have only managed two wins away from home all season long.

 

Sunderland’s defence will always give the opposition a chance but Defoe is due a goal in the Premier League. Both sides might not have enough quality to finish off the game and that’s why a draw is on the cards at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon.


Prediction: Watford 1-1 Sunderland