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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Big Match Preview

Leicester City vs. Watford
Saturday April 17, 15:00, Walkers Stadium

The penultimate home game of the season for play-off hopefuls Leicester sees struggling Watford coming to town needing points to assure them of Championship survival.

The Foxes, promoted from League One as Champions 12 months ago, have enjoyed a successful return to the second tier.

Currently in 5th, they know a win, coupled with other results going their way, could assure them of a place in the play-offs come 5pm.

For Malky Mackay's visitors, the more modest accomplishment of making sure they're still part of the Championship next season is their goal ahead of Saturday.

The Hertfordshire outfit are just three points above 22nd placed Sheffield Wednesday, but know a win at the Walkers Stadium would go a long way to seeing them avoid the drop.

That quest for survival was boosted by last weekend's 1-0 win over relegation rivals Plymouth - a result which stretched their unbeaten run to three matches.

It's their best run in what's been a nightmare 2010 for Mackay's side. Just four victories have been registered as they've slid down the table from the relative mid-table security of 13th.

Part of the problem has been a poor set of results on the road. Indeed, not since they won at Middlesbrough at the beginning of October have the Hornets returned home from their travels with three points.

Only two of the promoted sides - already relegated Peterborough and fellow strugglers Scunthorpe have worse away records this term than Watford. A fact Mackay will hope to improve upon as they make their way to the East Midlands.

He'll also be hoping for more goals from Saturday's matchwinner - Icelandic striker Heider Helguson - who, along with Danny Graham, has ten goals to his name this term.

The other leading light going forwards has been on-loan Manchester United man Tom Cleverly, who's got 11. England U21 keeper Scott Loach has also been an important figure in Watford's team this season.

It's been a season of toil for Watford's rookie manager Malky Mackay

Loach is sure to be busy this weekend too as he attempts to keep Leicester's array of attacking talent out.

City are enjoying their best season at this level since winning promotion to the Premier League in 2003.

Nigel Pearson's men have continued where they left off last term in walking away with the League One title, and boast one of the best home records in the division.

Just four sides have gone away with maximum spoils from the Walkers - and last time out the Foxes rolled over Queens Park Rangers 4-0.

Two of those goals came from Martyn Waghorn - the Sunderland loanee - who has found the back of the net 11 times already this season. Last year's hotshot, Matty Fryatt, remains the team's top scorer this term too though, with 12 goals.

Last time out, Pearson's side were 2-1 winners at Peterborough - making it back to back wins as the business end of the season takes grip.

It also helped continue their recovery after a run of four straight losses had raised doubts over their top six staying powers.

Leicester appear to be back on track now though and, with a potentially tricky trip to Preston followed by a final day game against Middlesbrough still to come, will know Saturday is a great opportunity to almost cement a play-off place.

While they may have to wait a bit longer to assure themselves of an extension to their season, the home side should have more than enough this weekend to see off a Watford team who, despite their tenacity, don't travel well.

Nobes' Prediction: Leicester City 2 Watford 0

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