Blogs & Opinion


Peter Beagrie:

Most Popular Posts:

Recent Comments:

Gary Bennett on Reading crashers

"Leeds have thrown away too many games this season with our dodgy defence conceding too many soft goals.Scoring goals has not been a problem and i think the play offs are still there to ... " View all comments

Peter Beagrie tips Watford to edge past Leicester in play-offs

Peter Beagrie - Peter Beagrie Posted 8th May 2013 view comments

This has already been a phenomenal season in the Championship and it all climaxed on an incredible final day.

We saw three different teams in the remaining relegation spot above Bristol City and Wolves during the 90 minutes and it was eventually Peterborough, one of the form teams who've played impressively under pressure, who went down.

Watford: can they bounce back from their final-day heartache?

Watford: can they bounce back from their final-day heartache?

There was similar pressure at the top end, but that's the type of pressure that everybody wants to be involved in. The teams battling for sixth place knew the prize in this 27th season of the play-offs has gone up to £120million. The richest game in football has got richer.

And on Saturday we saw the footballing equivalent of the Hokey Cokey; Forest were in and then they were out; Bolton were in and then they were out; and eventually it was Leicester in - and thankfully for them they stayed there.

Can Leicester get a lead to take to Watford? Can they stop their opponents scoring? On both accounts I think the answer is no. I think Watford will get a goal and at least a draw.

Peter Beagrie
Quotes of the week

The Foxes jumped from eighth to sixth after a downward spiral from the dizzy heights of second earlier this season. When they bought Chris Wood for £1million everybody thought they were going to challenge Cardiff for the title.

In the end they scraped into the play-offs by winning the last game of the season 3-2 in front of 28,500 fans at the City Ground and it's ironic that so soon after it seemed their season had fallen apart, they've now been installed as second favourites for promotion behind Brighton.

When it mattered they found the resources, the formation, the results and the goals to get them there and Anthony Knockaert's injury-time goal could now be worth £120million to them.

This will be their sixth appearance in the play-offs having lost three previously and winning two under Brian Little and Martin O'Neill. They certainly know what the play-offs are all about. They have never lost an away leg in the play-offs and must now find a way to win against a Watford team that did the double over them in the league this season.

However, the madness that has surrounded Leicester's home games has made me wonder if the KP Stadium is named after KP Nuts, rather than King Power and barely a fortnight ago Watford won there through goals from Troy Deeney and a Nathaniel Chalobah stunner. This Watford side seem to have the Indian sign over them.

Devastating

However, they'll be helped by the fact that Deeney is suspended and the fact that Watford need to recover psychologically, as much as physically, following their devastating last-day defeat to Leeds. A win on the final day would have seen them go up automatically after Hull drew with Cardiff but now they must recover and go again.

More importantly, their goalkeepers need to recover. They lost Manuel Almunia in the warm-up, which was incredible and meant the Wales U19 international Jonathan Bond came in - but it was even more incredible to see him injured prompting Gianfranco Zola to throw on 19-year-old Jack Bonham. A hat-trick of keepers? You couldn't script it.

Bonham ended up conceding the late goal that he would probably save 99 times out of 100. He lost his geography as he wandered to the edge of the penalty area and jumped too early for a ball that should have been meat and drink for him. It's going to be very interesting to see how they respond after that.

However, I still fancy Watford. They've scored 85 goals this season, which shows you what they're all about. They play with a wild abandon, a lovely fluency and a bravery on the ball. Up front they will play Matěj Vydra - a wonderful goalscorer with pace and the ability to stretch teams - and Fernando Forestieri - a Zola-ish magician who drops into the hole and runs at people. I also like Almen Abdi, who is a bit of an unsung hero yet has come up with important goals.I don't think this Watford team will suffer after the defeat by Leeds because Gianfranco is such a positive character. In the 26 previous play-offs the team that has finished third has got to the final 13 times and won it nine times, so history favours them.

So for me, Watford go into the game as favourites. I know the bookmakers have gone for Leicester, but the resources in Zola's squad and the negativity that often surrounds Leicester may see them through.

It's a very finely balanced tie and I think it will be won in the home legs. Watford have struggled at home and Leicester have had problems at the King Power. I fancied them to win at Forest away from the negativity of their own stadium, but now the pressure mounts again.

Can Leicester get a lead to take to Watford? Can they stop their opponents scoring? On both accounts I think the answer is no. I think Watford will get a goal and at least a draw. Cracks have been appearing in the Leicester defence and they've left gaps as they've chased games.

Leicester still have some fine individuals, but the weight of expectation that has hindered them in their promotion push might be too inhibiting for them.

I think Watford will just about scrape through by a small margin in a goal-fest over two legs.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Latest News RSS feeds

Chelsea in good shape for PSG

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is likely to have a strong squad to select from for their Champions League game with Paris Saint-Germain.

'Let's throw some punches'

New Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood says he is planning to install a more attacking approach at the club.

LVG: We must sign a midfielder

Louis van Gaal has confirmed that Manchester United will attempt to sign a creative midfield player this summer.

Live transfer updates

Live transfer news as Louis van Gaal makes the signing a creative midfielder his top priority this summer.

Bony trains with new team-mates

Wilfried Bony has trained with Man City for the first time after winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast.

Features

Tim Sherwood's to-do list: Five things the new Aston Villa manager must make a priority if he is to succeed

Tim Sherwood's to-do list: Five things the new Aston Villa manager must make a priority if he is to succeed

As Tim Sherwood settles into his first day at work as Aston Villa manager, the challenge of keeping the Premier League perennials in the top flight begins.

Pogba? Verratti? Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal wants a creative midfielder but who should he sign?

Pogba? Verratti? Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal wants a creative midfielder but who should he sign?

Only a fortnight after the transfer window closed, Louis van Gaal has set tongues wagging again by admitting that Manchester United need to sign a creative midfielder.

Xabi Alonso impressing at Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola and eyeing a third Champions League medal

Xabi Alonso impressing at Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola and eyeing a third Champions League medal

Adam Bate looks at Xabi Alonso's fine form with Bayern Munich and why he can make history this season.