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Match Preview: Sunderland v Watford - all you need to know ahead of kick-off!

After the Lads got back on track at Hillsborough we return to the Stadium of Light to take on Watford, with a view to avoiding successive home defeats - here’s all you need to know ahead of kick-off!

Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

Wednesday 4th October 2023

(4th) Sunderland v Watford (20th)


Stadium of Light

Kick-Off: 19:45

Tickets & Match Coverage

Tickets: Tickets are available at

TV/Stream: Full live match coverage is available via the red button on Sky Sports and

Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Radio Newcastle (not online)

Don’t forget to follow the blow-by-blow account of the game on the Roker Report Twitter feed (@RokerReport) and check out the player ratings after the full-time whistle at!

The build-up...

The Lads managed to bounce back from the disappointment of losing at home to Cardiff City by winning comfortably at Hillsborough on Friday night, but a sterner test lies ahead in Watford’s visit to the Stadium of Light - although taking on a random under-13 side would potentially be a sterner test than Sheffield Wednesday provided.

In previewing tonight’s game, it’s partly looking at the opposition, but it mainly boils down to an introspective look at our form on home soil. It’s currently a toss of a coin, with two wins and two losses from the four we’ve played in the league so far in our back yard.

If this was viewed in isolation then the spotlight on those results so far wouldn’t be quite as bright, but taking into account our record last season - where only two sides in the top half of the table lost more at home and only five sides in the entire division won fewer home games - the spotlight has good reason to shine brightly on it.

With three successive victories on the road - while scoring three goals in all three games - the contrast is stark between the ability to swat teams aside on our travels and the effort it requires to break sides down who travel north with a plan to frustrate.

Watford have only won once in league competition on Wearside in the last eight attempts stretching back to 1994, and with two home games in quick succession for the Lads, it’s a good opportunity to cement a place in the top six while also rectifying some of our domestic issues.

Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
“Have we scored six yet...?!”
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

What is going on at Watford? It’s a question I ask myself every time we take them on, because I usually have no clue how many managers they’ve parted with in the interim period and who the man in charge is at any given moment - I suspect that at times even the manager of Watford isn’t sure who is in charge.

The mechanism on the revolving door of the manager’s office at Vicarage Road has taken an absolute hammering over the years, with three managerial appointments last season alone.

Beginning the season with Rob Edwards, who was appointed in the summer but lasted until September - then Watford fans could only watch as he took Luton Town to the Premier League which I’m sure was fun. Slaven Bilic lasted between September and March and it speaks volumes that even in 6-7 months at the helm, he managed the club in more games than all but one of the seven that came before him.

Chris Wilder limped the Hornets home to an 11th placed finish, which was hugely disappointing considering they were tipped by many for an immediate return to the top-flight.

In the hot seat at Vicarage Road now is Valérien Ismaël, some of you may remember him from relatively brief stints with Barnsley and West Bromwich Albion in recent years, and his previous post was a couple of months at the end of last season with Beşiktaş.

But things haven’t got off to a good start for the Frenchman as Watford sit two places above the drop on nine points, only one better off than strugglers Queens Park Rangers, and without a victory in the three played away from home so far.

The new manager has been in his post for roughly the same amount of games as Edwards and Wilder were last season and if history tells us anything, then the WD40 might be getting applied very soon to that revolving door.

Watford v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship - Vicarage Road
Watford manager Valerien Ismael
Photo by Rhianna Chadwick/PA Images via Getty Images

Sunderland home form...

Watford away form...

The betting...

The bookies fancy a home win tonight with odds of 19/20, while a Watford victory is priced at around 27/10 and a draw is 5/2.

Head to head... at Sunderland

(All competitions)

  • Sunderland wins: 13
  • Draws: 6
  • Watford wins: 4
  • Sunderland goals: 49
  • Watford goals: 21

Last time we met... at the Stadium of Light

Saturday 29th April 2023


Sunderland 2-2 Watford

[O’Nien 70’, Roberts 90’ - Kabasele 17’, Porteous 69’]

Sunderland: Patterson, Gooch, Hume, O’Nien, Cirkin, Neil (Michut), Ekwah (Pritchard), Roberts, Diallo, Clarke, Gelhardt (Ba) Substitutes not used: Bass, Anderson, Taylor, Lihadji

Watford: Bachman, Andrews (Hoedt), Kamara, Choudhury, Porteous, Kabasele, Sarr (Ngakia), Louza, Davis, Asprilla (Bacuna), Sema Substitutes not used: Hamer, Morriss, Kone, Araujo

Attendance: 44,944

Sunderland v Watford - Sky Bet Championship
Luke O’Nien was keen to restart the game following his goal that kickstarted the come back when the sides last met at the Stadium of Light back in April
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Played for both...

Tony Coton

Tamworth-born Tony Coton started out just down the road at Birmingham City, where he progressed through the ranks in the late 1970s until he made his full debut for the Blues, which came against Sunderland, in 1980.

He quickly became the established number one and following Birmingham’s relegation from the top-flight in 1984, he journeyed south to join Graham Taylor’s Watford for £300,000. In six years at Vicarage Road he became a legend, resulting in being the second inductee to the club's hall of fame years later behind Luther Blissett.

A £1m move to Manchester City came in the summer of 1990, which only came a year after Nigel Martyn became the first £1m British goalkeeper when he moved to Crystal Palace. Another six years was spent at Maine Road before he moved across the city to United in January 1996, before joining Sunderland six months later.

It was ahead of our first season in the Premier League, but survival hopes were dealt a blow when after only 12 appearances, Coton suffered multiple breaks in his leg at the Dell that would end his playing career.

Since hanging up his gloves, Coton has had scouting roles for the likes of Manchester United, Wigan Atheltic, Bolton Wanderers and Aston Villa, before returning to Sunderland as head of recruitment in 2018, and in 2020 he went back to Manchester United as goalkeeper scout.

Tony Coton
Tony Coton
Getty images


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