Brighton vs Watford: What makes Ismaila Sarr so dangerous, who is Hornets' boss Xisco, Danny Welbeck injury latest?

Brighton and Watford both enjoyed victories on the opening day of the Premier League campaign but what can Albion expect from newly-promoted Watford?

Wednesday, 18th August 2021, 12:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th August 2021, 12:14 pm
Ismaila Sarr is a key man in the Watford attack

Seven of the Hornets’ nine Championship defeats came away from home. Their first test comes against a Brighton side who have only lost once to Watford in six Premier League matches, drawing three and winning two.

Watford’s previous two Premier League campaigns started at Vicarage Road against Brighton, winning 2-0 in 2018 and losing 3-0 in 2019. They also met in game week three in the Seagulls’ first season in the topflight which ended in a stalemate.

Watford shocked last season’s surprise package Aston Villa on the opening weekend, going three goals ahead before conceding two late on. Goals from new signing Emmanuel Dennis,

Xisco guided Watford to promotion last season

Ismaila Sarr and Cucho Hernandez made it two consecutive seasons of winning on their first league fixture. The last side to break that? Brighton.

Brighton fans can expect to see Dennis and Tom Cleverley drift out to the right side for an aerial diagonal ball hit towards Sarr from the goalkeeper or centre halves. They look to win the physical battle and use the winger’s electric pace to exploit the space in behind which they did to great effect for the first two goals against Villa.

Following Burnley’s early success from crosses and set pieces, expect Watford to try and exploit this as well with the likes of Troy Deeney, Andre Gray and Ashley Fletcher in their ranks.

Sarr, the rumoured Liverpool target, had a role in 23 of Watford’s 63 goals in the Championship, scoring 10 and assisting 13. Their other key player last season, João Pedro, missed out last week as he recovers from a knee injury.

Cucho Hernandez made his debut off the bench last Saturday four years after signing for the club. Cutting in off the right, he curled the ball in off the far post for the Hornets’ third. The biggest surprise package is the manager himself, Xisco. The Spaniard won the Uefa cup as a player with Valencia in 2003.

He joined Watford 11 days after his debut season as a manager with Dinamo Tbilisi in Georgia where he won the league. He won 18 of his 26 games in charge as Watford climbed from fifth to second in the Championship to gain automatic promotion.

They have added Premier League experience in Josh King and Danny Rose while adding Imrân Louza for £9 million from Nantes.

The latter two were on the bench while King missed it with a groin injury. King re-joined training this week. Adam Masina and Domingos Quina returned to training last week while Nathaniel Chalobah is recovering from illness which kept him out of playing Aston Villa.

Watford fans will keep a close eye on the progress of Albion striker Danny Welbeck who is recovering from a hamstring injury. The former Man United and Arsenal man had an injury hit spell with the Hornets before joining Albion.

The match may just arrive too soon for Welbeck.