Wigan Athletic - Meeting The Oppo's - Watford v Latics
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Meeting The Oppo's - Watford v Latics

Well Watford are certainly ripping up trees this season with some fantastic performances and high scoring games, we are down in Hertfordshire on Saturday to face Gianfranco Zola's men so I thought it would be a good idea to find out a little bit more about the Hornets and what we are likely to face

I met up with Vital Watford's Tom Bodell for a brew, some biscuits and a chat, all cyberly of course, let's take a look at what I found out:

What a start to the season Tom, banging the goals in, do you feel that you can make up for the disappointment of losing in the play-off final by gaining promotion this time?

Absolutely yes. This is a much tougher division to get promotion in than last season so we could well have missed a little bit a trick there. By that I mean that yourselves, Reading and QPR are no mugs. Whilst only QPR are flying, you're all a darn sight stronger than the madhouses that were Wolves and Blackburn the year prior.

The aim is very much promotion - the owners said as much about this season 12 months ago - and the calibre of players that our controversial family have been able to provide for us have only served to heighten the expectation levels around Vicarage Road, a location typically reserved for pessimism and annual doses of reality.

Is Zola the man, what do Watford fans think of little Gianfranco?

Bar a few oxygen thieves, (who won't get any more coverage than that), we absolutely love him. He has been fantastic since day one when he walked into his introductory presser and said 'we're going to play football, that's all there is to it'. He has not compromised on that and he has subsequently delivered some of the most breathtaking and exhilarating football we've had the pleasure to watch.

That we've also done very well so far and have seen some enjoyed some memorable highs along the way has been a massive bonus. Now it's time to make it all count for something tangible come May 2014.

If I had to criticise him, I'd say that we lack a Plan 'B' when teams park the bus or set up with two rigid banks of four. When Plan 'A' is so pleasing on the eye and (more often than not) effective, it's only a concern occasionally, though.

What formation does Zola have Watford playing or do you interchange?

We've typically been setting up 3-5-2 since kind of October last year, though at the beginning of this season when that hasn't worked Zola has changed to 3-4-3/3-4-2-1, which he started with against Charlton. That didn't work and now we're back to 3-5-2 which seems to be working OK.

Who are the main men that we need to be aware of?

At the back Gabriele Angella has been superb since signing from Udinese. Strong in the air and in the tackle, he never loses a header and is an absolute menace from set plays. His distribution needs work.

We're not all about former Udinese players, though, homegrown midfielder Sean Murray was poor by his own admission last season but worked extremely hard during pre-season and put in a lot of extra voluntary work in his spare time and is now reaping the rewards.

Handed his first league start of the season at Barnsley last weekend, he rattled in a wonderful strike on his week foot and by all accounts, played very well. He followed that up with another excellent display in the 3-2 defeat by Norwich City in the League Cup on Tuesday.

I read about transfer embargos and loan signings without knowing too much about what was going on, is all fine behind the scenes with the owners?

The 'transfer embargo' was an embargo in name only and was carried over from the previous owner, Laurence Bassini. Without informing the Football League - as you are supposed to - Mr Bassini got an advance on money owed to Watford for the transfer of Danny Graham from Swansea. This was not illegal in Football League terms, but not informing the relevant bodies of the deal was.

The 'embargo' allowed us to sign players, but these deals had to be given the go-ahead by the Football League. Thanks to the fact the bulk of our deals were done with Udinese/Granada, those deals then needed FIFA rubber-stamping too, slowing the whole process down.

We now have two players on loan: Chelsea's Josh McEachran until January 2 and Granada's Essaid Belkalem until the summer, with a view to a permanent deal.

What's your thoughts on the Latics, we won the FA cup you know

I thought you'd walk the league, but I probably didn't factor in European matches and travel, the turnover of players and the change from Roberto Martinez to Owen Coyle.

All that said, we're only eight games into the season and there's a lot more football left to be played. With the best will in the world, you'll be out of Europe by Xmas - and I doubt anyone will shed any tears in the Wigan camp - and able to concentrate on getting promotion from there.

There's no doubt in my mind that your squad is one of the strongest in the league and Coyle is a good manager, it just needs time to come together.

How do you see Saturdays game going, can we have a prediction please?

I think tactically it could be a very interesting game. I'm given to understand Wigan play a sort of 5-4-1 and with the adventurous Jean Beausejour up against the equally adventurous Ikechi Anya, there could be some real battles. The likes of Callum McManaman and James McClean will also help peg back our wing-backs too.

I do however wonder how effective Nick Powell will be as a centre-forward if Marc Antoine-Fortune is not fit.

Prediction? 2-1 to the Hornets.

Thanks to Tom for taking time out to chat

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The Journalist

Writer: Barry Worthington Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday September 27 2013

Time: 7:00AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Thanks for the chat Tom and best of luck for the rest of the season
Report Abuse
26/09/2013 23:32:00

To be honest we haven't started this season yet.. Pulling up trees?? Not as yet.. Barnsley last week hopefully be the start of something special.. It's frightening really.. Hope to see U Saturday at The Vic...
Report Abuse
27/09/2013 09:40:00


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