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Roker Report Preview: Watford v Sunderland

Some say this is a meaningless game, but in my eyes it's a chance for some of our younger players to prove themselves.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Kick Off: 3pm, Sunday, 15 May, 2016
Venue: Vicarage Road, Watford, Hertfordshire
Last Season: N/A
Dafabet Odds: Watford: 21/20 Draw: 13/5 Sunderland: 13/5

The dream scenario for Sunderland was fulfilled on Wednesday night, when a comfortable 3-0 win over Everton ensured Sunderland's safety and, in doing so, we sent Newcastle down with a game to spare.

With that done and dusted the pressure is off, and for the first time this season Sam Allardyce can put out a team knowing that win, lose or draw, the result simply does not matter. What does matter, however, is the performance.

I say this because we are expected to field a team largely made up by fringe players that want to prove a point and youngsters getting their first proper chance of playing Premier League football, and it's the latter group who are key. Tom Robson, George Honeyman and Jordan Pickford are all expected to start the game and all three are at the stage now where they have to sink or swim at Sunderland, Robson and Honeyman in particular.

More than anything though it should be a celebration, particularly for the away fans who have followed this team all over the country, selling just about every away allocation out. We deserve a day to enjoy ourselves.

Match Appointments

Referee: Kevin Friend
Assistants: M Salisbury & A Fox
Fourth Official: D Deadman

Team News

Sunderland

Now that Sunderland are safe, Sam Allardyce is almost certain to make a raft of changes to his starting eleven. Initial suggestions are that a number of the U21s and U18s players will form much of the squad, with the likes of Jordan Pickford, Wes Brown, John O'Shea, Billy Jones, Seb Larsson, Jack Rodwell and Duncan Watmore expected to start.

Watford

Much like ourselves, Watford are playing for nothing this weekend, and departing boss Quique Sanchez Flores is likely to field a fairly strong team, with Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney expected to lead the line.

Costel Pantillimon may well start against his former side, having largely played second fiddle to Huerelho Gomes since leaving Wearside in January.

Form

Sunderland - LWDDWW
11 May 2016 - Sunderland 3-0 Everton
07 May 2016 - Sunderland 3-2 Chelsea
30 Apr 2016 - Stoke City 1-1 Sunderland
24 Apr 2016 - Sunderland 0-0 Arsenal
16 Apr 2016 - Norwich City 0-3 Sunderland
10 Apr 2016 - Sunderland 0-2 Leicester City

Watford - DWLLLL
11 May 2016 - Norwich City 4-2 Watford
08 May 2016 - Liverpool 2-0 Watford
30 Apr 2016 - Watford 3-2 Aston Villa
20 Apr 2016 - West Ham United 3-1 Watford
16 Apr 2016 - West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Watford
09 Apr 2016 - Watford 1-1 Everton

Fan Focus

This week we spoke to Watford fanzine 'Golden Pages', who isn't particularly optimistic about the way Watford will play at the weekend:

We'll be boring and defensive. Having survived relegation, hopefully you'll be the same and we'll scrape a narrow win.

Read more of our interview here - it's a cracking read.

Manager Craic

Sam Allardyce on which kind of team Sunderland will field at Vicarage Road:

My idea is to play some younger players on Sunday. The under-21s have had a great year and I think that some of them need to play in the team to see if they can cope at this level when the pressure is off.

That's not saying we will go there and lie down because I expect these lads to compete at this level and show why there may be a place for them in the squad in the future.

Earlier This Season

Head To Head

12 Dec 2015 - Sunderland 0-1 Watford
12 Feb 2005 - Sunderland 4-2 Watford
19 Oct 2004 - Watford 1-1 Sunderland
07 Feb 2004 - Watford 2-2 Sunderland
25 Aug 2003 - Sunderland 2-0 Watford
27 Nov 1999 -Watford 2-3 Sunderland

Stats & Facts

Head-to-head
  • Watford won the reverse fixture 1-0 in December - their first league win over Sunderland since 1999 (D2, L4).
Watford
  • Watford have lost seven of their last 10 league matches (W2, D1).
  • The Hornets won 29 points from their first 18 matches this season - they have taken just 15 from their subsequent 19 games.
  • Troy Deeney has scored three times in his last three Premier League games, as many as in his previous 16 combined.
  • Deeney has set up seven goals for Odion Ighalo this season in the Premier League - no player has provided more assists for another more often.
Sunderland
  • Sunderland are unbeaten in their last five games and have only lost one of their last 10 (W3, D6, L1).
  • However, they have won just one of their last seven Premier League away matches (D4, L2).
  • Sunderland have named the same starting XI for seven games in succession, something they've never done before in the Premier League.
  • They spent 237 days in the bottom three this season - only Southampton in 1998-99 were in the relegation zone for longer without being relegated (252).

Gav's Prediction

I think we'll win. Watford have just sacked their manager, whilst we are a team brimming with confidence who finally have the shackles off and can play with a modicum of freedom. I'm going for 2-1 to us, with Watmore and Defoe notching.