Watford v Chelsea preview: Mario Suarez in line for Hornets debut
By Charlotte Marsh
Last Updated: 03/02/16 7:57pm
Mario Suarez is in line for his debut as Watford host Chelsea in the Premier League on Wednesday evening.
The Spanish midfielder arrived at Vicarage Road in a £4m move from Fiorentina during the transfer window, and will be hoping to help the Hornets to a third consecutive win in all competitions.
Quique Sanchez Flores' men knocked Nottingham Forest out of the FA Cup on Saturday, after ending their run of four successive league losses with a 2-1 win against Newcastle the week before.
Chelsea were also in fine FA Cup form on Sunday, beating MK Dons 5-1 to make the fifth round and are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League games.
However, Watford still remain above the current league champions - four points and three places in front - and the Blues could go ten points clear of the relegation zone with a win on Wednesday.
Suarez could be joined in the starting side by Jose Holebas, who is expected to take the place of the ineligible Nathan Ake - currently on loan from Chelsea.
Defenders Tommie Hoban (groin) and Joel Ekstrand (knee) both continue their rehabilitation and will not feature.
Willian is expected to overcome a bruised foot to feature for Guus Hiddink, but Loic Remy (calf) remains out along with fellow striker Radamel Falcao (thigh).
New Blues signings Alexandre Pato and Matt Miazga are not likely to be included for another week or so as they continue to settle into life at Stamford Bridge.
Paul Merson's prediction
Chelsea should win this one. They've got the players to do just that and they seem up for it now. The players may be the same but Chelsea are a different team to when Jose Mourinho was there. Since Guus Hiddink has come in the players have really upped their games. Cesc Fabregas looks like the player he used to be, as does Diego Costa. If Chelsea can keep Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo quiet they win this game. It's quite simple. I see a 2-1 Chelsea win with Costa scoring first.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2 (Sky Bet odds 8/1)
Watford have kept a clean sheet in half (6) of their last 12 Premier League home matches.
Troy Deeney has created 26 goalscoring chances for Odion Ighalo this season in the Premier League (assisting a goal with six of these); a higher number than any player for a teammate in 2015-16.
Odion Ighalo has scored seven goals in his last seven Premier League matches at Vicarage Road for the Hornets.
Watford have won just one of their previous seven Premier League games in the month of February (W1 D2 L4).
This will be Watford's 100th Premier League match, becoming the 39th team to reach a century of games in the competition.
Chelsea have won 28 points from their 23 Premier League games so far in 2015-16 - it took them 11 games to surpass this tally in 2014-15.
Watford's 32 point tally after 23 games this season is the best at this stage of a season by a newly-promoted side since Birmingham City (34) in 2009-10.
Sky Bet make Watford 3/1 shots ahead of their clash with Chelsea (19/20) at Vicarage Road. The Blues have drawn four of their last six Premier League games, including a 2-2 draw with the Hornets on Boxing Day, and another stalemate on Wednesday is trading at 12/5.
Diego Costa scored both Chelsea goals in that match and is Price Boosted to 4/1 to open the scoring, while Troy Deeney, who was also on the mark at Stamford Bridge, is 8/1 to net first. Sky Sports pundits Jamie Redknapp and Phil Thompson expect it to be tight and are backing 1-1 and 2-2 draws respectively. See all the match odds and Price Boosts here.