Matej Vydra

Play-Off Spotlight: Watford

by Ashley Houghton

We put a Sunderland slant on potential 2013-14 opponents.

Watford are looking to end a six-year exile from the Barclays Premier League when they play Crystal Palace in the play-off final at Wembley on Bank Holiday Monday.

The Hornets were relegated in the 2006-07 campaign, the same season that Sunderland returned to the top flight under Roy Keane.

The following campaign Watford were beaten in the play-off semi-finals by Hull City, their first Championship play-off defeat having previously seen off Leeds United to be promoted to the Premier League in 2005-06.

Since their play-off defeat to Hull in 2007, Watford have failed to make the play-offs, until this season when Gianfranco Zola’s side finished third in the Championship table.

Should Watford beat Palace on Monday they will look to improve their record on Wearside which has seen them fail to win a league game since 1994.

In fact, the Hornets haven’t won any of the previous six league meetings between the two sides.

Watford manager Zola had success against Sunderland as a player; scoring three goals in his eight matches against the Black Cats of which Chelsea won five.

Zola’s success against Sunderland as a manager is also apparent; the Italian is yet to be on the losing side against the men from Wearside with three wins and a draw in his time in charge of West Ham United.

The Hornets’ current side contains one player who used to ply his trade on Wearside in Nyron Nosworthy. The Sunderland cult hero has played 13 times for Watford since joining in 2011.

Watford have had no problems in finding the net this season, Zola’s side have scored 88 goals in 48 league games this season.

Those goals have come mainly through Matej Vydra (22) and Troy Deeney (20) with the former being one of many Hornets players who is on loan from Udinese.

Like Vydra (pictured), Almen Abdi joined on loan from Udinese and has played a key part in Watford’s promotion push with 12 goals and multiple assists.