clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Opposition Lowdown: High-Flying Watford

Reading return to the SCL Stadium this weekend, taking on Watford for the third time this season. Join us as we take a look at the opposition.

Reading v Watford - Emirates FA Cup - Third Round - Select Car Leasing Stadium Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images


Watford were relegated from the Premier League last season, finishing in 19th place, one point above bottom club Norwich City. They currently sit in sixth place in the Championship, following 12 wins, eight draws and nine losses so far this season.

Their recent form has been mixed, with two wins, one draw and two losses in their last five games. The Hornets have had equal wins, draws and losses in their 15 away games so far this season.

The two sides faced each other in the league in November, when the Hornets claimed the three points after a 2-0 win, with two goals from Joao Pedro. Reading did claim a win over Watford last month, winning 2-0 at the SCL Stadium in the FA Cup, after goals from Kelvin Abrefa and Shane Long.

The boss

Slaven Bilic: Watford started the season with former Forest Green Rovers manager Rob Edwards in charge following his appointment last May, but he was sacked in September after only 12 games in charge. Edwards was replaced by former Croatia Manager Slaven Bilic, with the former defender signing an 18-month deal with The Hornets.

Bilic is no stranger to English football, having played for West Ham United and Everton and managed West Ham and West Bromwich Albion. He started his managerial career in 2001 at his first club, Hadjuk Split, before taking over as Croatia under-21s manager. He became the Croatia national team manager in 2006, a role he held for six years, leading the team in Euro 2008 and 2012.

He went on to manage a number of clubs following his international experience, taking charge of Lokomotiv Moscow, Besiktas, West Ham, Al-Ittihad, West Brom and Beijing Guoan. Bilic likes his sides to play possession-based football while remaining organised at the back.

Reading v Watford: Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images


Watford had a busy January transfer window, with nine players coming through the door at Vicarage Road. Notable signings include Canadian midfielder Ismael Kone, right back Joao Ferreira, centre backs Wesley Hoedt and Ryan Porteous, and striker Britt Assombalonga.

Star striker Joao Pedro and midfielder Tom Cleverley may both return from injury this weekend. New signing Joao Ferreira will miss out with a hamstring injury while Francisco Sierralta is also out with a foot injury. Ken Sema, Imran Louza, Christian Kabasele, Tom Dele-Bashiru and Dan Gosling are all out injured.

Expected line-up

Bachmann, Hoedt, Porteous, Cathcart, Bacuna, Gaspar, Kone, Kamara, Martins, Sarr, Davis

Key player

Ismaila Sarr: Forward Sarr joined Watford in August 2019, signing from French side Rennes for a club-record fee of a reported £30m. After starting his youth career in his homeland, Senegal, Sarr signed his first professional deal with French side Metz in 2016. He joined Rennes a year later and spent two seasons there before securing his move to the Premier League with Watford.

He has gone on to make 116 appearances for the Hornets, scoring 31 goals. Sarr is a Senegalese international who has 52 caps for his country and 11 goals to his name. Watford managed to keep hold of him despite interest from a number of Premier League sides over the course of the January transfer window. The 24-year-old is a winger with explosive pace who can play anywhere across the top three.

One to watch

Ismael Kone: Midfielder Kone signed for Watford in January from MLS side CF Montreal. The 20 year-old started his professional career at the Canadian side in August 2021 and made 32 appearances for the club, scoring four goals.

Kone made his Watford debut against Reading last month in the third round of the FA Cup. He is a Canadian international who has won nine caps for his country, playing a part in all three of Canada’s games in the 2022 World Cup. Kone plays in the centre of midfield and possesses good off-the-ball awareness and close control.