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Stoke vs Watford predictions: Joy at both ends in Potteries
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Daniel Childs
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Slaven Bilic starts life as Watford boss with a tricky test at improving Stoke as he looks to get the Hornets back on track
Slaven Bilic starts life as Watford boss with a tricky test at improving Stoke as he looks to get the Hornets back on track

Watford begin life under another new manager when they travel to Stoke on Sunday lunchtime.

After dispensing with Rob Edwards and appointing Slaven Bilic it will be interesting to see how they fare against Stoke, who could be among their rivals in the race for promotion. 

The Hornets made a bright start to the season with two wins in the first three games, but have now slipped to 11th after a 2-2 draw at home to Sunderland last time out made it one win in their last eight games in all competitions. 

Stoke have responded well to their recently appointed manager, Alex Neil, and are looking forward to their first home match since August. 

Team news

The Potters could be short of options in midfield with Sam Clucas missing the last two matches with a hamstring injury and Jordan Thompson suffering a head injury during Northern Ireland's 3-1 loss away to Greece on Tuesday. 

To make matters worse, influential attacker Jacob Brown (quad) is expected to be sidelined for another month. 

Harry Souttar, Jack Bonham (both knee) and Gavin Kilkenny (groin) are expected to miss out and there are doubts over Harry Clarke (shin) and Dujon Sterling (ankle). 

Watford hope to welcome back Ismaila Sarr, who returned from a minor injury to feature for Senegal during the international break. 

Key midfielder Imran Louza has returned to training over the international break but could lack match fitness.

Tom Cleverley (calf) has not featured since mid-August and Tom Dele-Bashiru (knee) is out long-term. 

The stats

Alex Neil has lost only one of his first four games in charge of Stoke
Alex Neil has lost only one of his first four games in charge of Stoke

Neill's side have kept back-to-back Championship clean sheets for the first time this season, winning 3-0 at Hull and drawing 0-0 at QPR, but they have had a sticky patch at the bet365 Stadium, taking just two points from their last three home fixtures. 

The Hornets are still searching for their first away win of the season and lost at Blackburn last time on their travels.

That was their first defeat on the road after drawing the four previous games.

Prediction

Watford have scored just 11 goals in their opening 10 games but have some very good forward players and can contribute to a high-scoring contest in the Potteries. 

One of the top priorities for Bilic will be to get the team playing with more attacking intent. 

And his task should be made easier by the expected inclusion of Senegalese winger Sarr, who should be eager to make an impact in the run up to the World Cup. 

Sarr has delivered moments of magic this season, including a stunning goal from the halfway line in the 1-1 draw at West Brom, and is likely to be joined in attack by classy Brazilian Joao Pedro and powerhouse centre-forward Keinan Davis. 

It is a high-quality front three and it should help to end Stoke's sequence of two successive clean sheets. 

Watford's problems will be keeping Stoke out at the other end. 

The Potters look potent up top with Manchester City loanee Liam Delap linking up with proven second-tier striker Dwight Gayle, and they can cause problems for a largely paceless Watford defence. 

There is the potential for plenty of entertainment in the Potteries with both sides likely to get on the scoresheet.

Tags

StokeWatfordChampionshipIsmaila Sarr
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