Preview: Watford vs Wolves – Focus turns to Wembley
By Adam Virgo
Wolves look to get to their first FA Cup final since 1960 as they take on Watford in the Semi Final on Sunday.
Both sides head into Sunday’s encounter off the back of midweek wins, Wolves beating Manchester United 2-1 at Molineux whilst Watford won 4-1 against Fulham at Vicarage Road.
Wolves and Watford are having impressive Premier League campaigns, both pushing for seventh also known as being the ‘best of the rest’.
When the sides met at Molineux back in October, the Hornets came out on top with a 2-0 win, goals coming from Étienne Capoue and Roberto Pereyra.
However, since then, Wolves have changed from a 3-4-3 formation into a 3-5-2. Leander Dendoncker taking up that extra role in midfield has been a revelation, defensively and also marauding forward at times to help out in attack. Having the Belgian international in the midfield has allowed for one, João Moutinho to have more freedom in the middle which he has thrived in, and two, the partnership of Diogo Jota and Raúl Jiménez which is almost telepathic at times.
Wolves have already won at Wembley once this season when their brilliant performance, more-so in the second half, earned them a 3-1 against Spurs in December and the fans can only dream of a similar result on Sunday.
The game sets up for an exciting tie on paper although both managers, sets of players and fans will know they are in for a tough game.
Watford have a few injury concerns as Tom Cleverley definitely misses out with a calf injury whilst Roberto Pereyra and Isaac Success are slight doubts with hip and knee injuries respectively.
Wolves have no injury concerns so Nuno Espírito Santo will have a fully-fit squad available to him and he has already confirmed that John Ruddy will once again start in goal as he has done throughout the FA Cup competition this season.
Watford – Abdoulaye Doucouré
An absolute powerhouse in midfield and the likes of Neves, Dendoncker and Moutinho will need to use their wit about them to get the better of the French midfielder. Doucouré has scored or assisted 11 goals in the league this season, two of those assists coming at Molineux when Watford won 2-0. He was even linked with a move to PSG in January.
Wolves – Raul Jimenez
Very tough choice this but the Mexican striker has scored or assisted 19 of Wolves’ 40 Premier League goals this season. Without him, Wolves are a different side and he is essential to how they play. His partnership with Diogo Jota is one of the finest in the top flight and in Europe at the moment.
· Watford’s last defeat against a side below the Premier League top six came on 1 December, losing 2-0 away to Leicester.
· Watford have only lost one of their last five matches against Wolves in all competitions (W2 D2), a 1-0 defeat in December 2014 in the Championship at Vicarage Road.
· Raúl Jiménez and Diogo Jota have scored Wolves’ last seven goals between them.
· Wolves haven’t lost in any of their six games in London this season – beating West Ham, Crystal Palace and Tottenham while drawing against Arsenal, Fulham and Chelsea.
Watford 1-2 Wolves – I can see both teams scoring in what I think will be a tight affair between both sides.
What do the fans have to say about tomorrow’s encounter?
I went to Molineux to speak to two Wolves fans (Josh Lem and Sam Astley), who are both heading to Wembley, to get some of their views on tomorrow’s FA Cup Semi Final.
Adam Virgo is a Talking Wolves blogger and sports writer. You can follow him here.