It was only last season that this was a regular fixture on the Championship schedule, yet Bristol City’s relegation has put an end to that and Watford will now approach the clash as firm favourites. Both of these clubs have experienced a change of manager through the last couple of months and there’s no doubt that both will be looking for a cup run in a bid to boost their respective transfer funds.
Even though Bristol City left the Championship without a whimper last term, most people fully expected the club to bounce straight back to England’s second tier. However, for whatever reason, things have gone from bad to worse and the board decided that Sean O’Driscoll wasn’t the right man to take them forward with the club languishing in the bottom places of League One. While the Robins still occupy 22nd position, there’s no doubt that new manager Steve Cotterill is promoting some form of improvement with the club winning their last two games. Additionally, they are now unbeaten in four at Ashton Gate, which should provide them with hope of an upset ahead of this encounter.
Opponents Watford are also attempting to come to terms with a new manager, with the Hornets still adapting to Giuseppe Sannino’s methods. The Italian was brought in after the Vicarage Road outfit just couldn’t repeat last season’s form under Gianfranco Zola, even though they had reached the playoff final back then. Whether or not Sannino’s limited experience in English football will hinder him remains to be seen, although Watford have improved since his arrival and have put together an unbeaten run of three games. They also look very difficult to beat on the road as well, with the club drawing their last five away fixtures in an unbeaten streak of six matches.
In terms of team news, Bristol City are expected to call upon Marlon Pack after he completed a suspension. However, there won’t be a place for Simon Gillett who is ruled out due to ineligibility, while Derrick Williams will sit out through a ban. Watford meanwhile are poised to put several players through a fitness test, with Daniel Pudil, Fernando Forestieri and Ikechi Anya the men in question. Four players who are already classed as definite absentees are Tommie Hoban, Essaid Belkalem, Davide Faraoni and Almen Abdi, as the quartet sit on the treatment table for the foreseeable future.
In terms of a prediction, we think Watford are going to continue their drawing run on the road in this clash. Bristol City might be sat a division lower than their opponents, but the fact that they seem to be coming into their own under Steve Cotterill is sure to aid them. With that, our tip is going to be a 1-1 scoreline at Ashton Gate.