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Blackburn Rovers vs Watford Preview: Hornets to make it 4 wins in a row at Ewood Park?

The Hornets travel to Lancashire tonight aiming to make it five games unbeaten away from home, and win their fourth in as many Championship games. Their hosts Blackburn are stuck in a bad patch of form, having lost their last four games.

Nathaniel Chalobah may not be available for the midweek game. The midfielder played through an illness on Friday night and, when asked by Vibe 107.6 about his availability for the game, Watford Head Coach Xisco Munoz indicated that a late decision would be made based on how he feels. "He is recovering, we will see what happens, we are waiting. Sometimes the players are like Superman, after two or three days sick maybe they can play. But it is important to wait and see."

Due to the relentless fixture schedule in recent weeks rotation is expected for the trip to Blackburn, particularly at full-back. Achraf Lazaar may make his first start in a Watford shirt, and Jeremy Ngakia may also be brought in, given Kiko Femenia's constant involvement in the team since the arrival of Xisco Munoz. Given both sides' current form, Watford should be able to rotate without jeopardising the result, but as we all know, it's never that simple in football. With a huge match on Saturday lunchtime away at Bournemouth, there may also be an eye to the future, rather than tonight.

 

The Opposition

Blackburn Rovers have had a turbulent season under Tony Mowbray. They're not out of the play-off race just yet, especially with two games in-hand on some sides, but need to escape a long run of poor performances. They've managed to score more this season than Watford and Swansea, but currently sit in 13th. Adam Armstrong is key to their success in front of goal, netting nineteen times so far this campaign, but isn't quite living up to the standards he set himself earlier in the season. The goals have dried up across the board to an extent, Rovers have scored four in their last six games, but still create plenty of chances. 

Sam Gallagher won't play following a serious injury suffered last weekend, nor will Lewis Holtby, Bradley Johnson, Daniel Ayala, Darragh Lenihan, Tom Trybull, Elliott Bennett or Joe Rankin-Costello. Ryan Nyambe on the other hand may feature, but faces a late fitness test first. Mowbray told the Blackburn Website that he will "Put out as strong a team as we've got" looking to turn around their fortunes against a side putting pressure on the top two.

Blackburn will likely play in a 4-2-3-1, or some variant of this, however injuries may enforce a change of style. 

Head-to-Head

Watford are unbeaten in four against tonight's hosts, winning their last two. 

The reverse fixture ended in a 3-1 victory for the Hornets at Vicarage Road, but was definitely closer than the result suggests. Ben Foster saved an Adam Armstrong penalty, and the visitors controlled the first half, but their dominance in possession was fruitless as Joao Pedro and Tom Cleverley scored (and Darragh Lenihan scored an own goal) to cancel out a Ben Brereton header.

The last tie at Ewood Park ended in the points being shared. Watford's two first half goals were matched by two second half goals from Blackburn in September 2014, with Daniel Tozser notably scoring a free kick.

 

Who's the Threat?

Blackburn Rovers: Harvey Elliott

Only seventeen years old, Liverpool loanee Harvey Elliott has lit up the second tier since his arrival on loan from Merseyside, making his debut in the reverse fixture. Despite not having the greatest performance at Vicarage Road the attacking midfielder/winger has excelled in the months since, and could worry whichever Watford defender faces the task of marking him.

 

Watford: Tom Cleverley

Arguably the most underrated Watford player this season, Tom Cleverley is one of the most reliable midfielders in the league and his experience will be crucial in a game like this. Tired legs, a dark and cold midweek night, Cleverley won't late that faze him, and has thrived in this three-man midfield in recent weeks.

 

Elliot's Score Prediction

Whenever Watford are comfortable favourites on paper it tends to mean they won't win. With Blackburn eager to turn things around and Watford needing to rotate for a difficult away game, it feels like a draw is coming. 

Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Watford

Kick-off: 7:45pm, Ewood Park

Televised? On Sky Sports Red Button, Hive Live and iFollow.

Referee: James Linington

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