Goodison Park

Next Game

Everton v Watford

Saturday, 08 August 2015, 15:00

Barclays Prem

Zola ready to lift Watford

Gianfranco Zola insists he will be able to lift his disappointed Watford players for their tilt at the play-offs.

Last Updated: 05/05/13 at 13:52 Post Comment

Gianfranco Zola: Ready to lift his players

Gianfranco Zola: Ready to lift his players

The Hornets fell agonisingly short of automatic promotion yesterday, going down to a late Leeds winner when a victory would have sent them into the Barclays Premier League at the expense of Hull.

Instead a semi-final meeting with sixth-placed Leicester awaits, with the first leg at the King Power Stadium on Thursday.

Watford have beaten Leicester twice this season, though, including a 2-1 away win last month.

But Hornets chief Zola said: "It will be tough. They are a team we have already faced twice and we know the quality they have. They know us, we know them. We'll go there and play our game.

"Before the game the players knew the possible scenarios. We will be ready to start again on Monday.

"The players were very tired at the end of the match, they had given everything. It's been tough but we will come back.

"The expectations have grown this season as we have grown in stature but you have to face that if you want to be a top team."

Zola is hoping goalkeeper Manuel Almunia will shake off the tight hamstring which kept him out of yesterday's match and had such a bearing on the outcome.

Jonathan Bond was drafted in to replace Almunia following the warm-up but his afternoon ended after 22 minutes when he was carried off with a broken nose.

That meant a professional debut for 19-year-old Jack Bonham, but the understandably nervous academy keeper was culpable as goals from Dominic Poleon and Ross McCormack, either side of Almen Abdi's fine curler, sealed Leeds' 2-1 win.

Defender Joel Ekstrand, whose poor clearance gifted Poleon his opener, tried to look at the positives.

He said: "If you had said play-offs at the start of the season we would have taken it.

"Now we have a second chance to take our place in the Premier League."

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

T

his is all good fun, but anyone who thinks United are 4th best in England for anything more than a blip is properly f***ing mental. And Domenech is properly f***ing mental.

megabrow (cufc)
Schneiderlin must join United - Domenech

I

f the answer is Matt Phillips, the question should never be Who is one of your major transfer targets?

jelasfirsttouch
The Twosome Gossip

I

s this Chris Smalling playing the 'Race' card?

hump3.
Smalling wants United race

Footer 365

Manchester United 'agree Matteo Darmian fee with Torino'

Manchester United have agreed a fee with Torino for Italy right-back Matteo Darmian, according to Sky Italia sources.

Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba not joining Barcelona this year

Barcelona have insisted they are "not planning" a move for Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba this calendar year.

Tottenham to sign Toby Alderweireld say Sky sources

Toby Alderweireld is on the verge of signing for Tottenham despite a dispute between Southampton and Atletico Madrid.

Mail Box

Why Is Kane More Likeable Than Carrick?

A Mailbox which covers topics including Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero, Robin van Persie, handballs, transfer reporting and Rodgers bingo. It's not us being mean...

Van Persie: Really Expensive Wallpaper

He was bought to cover the cracks that nearly brought down the house, says one Man United fan. We also have mails on Brendan, the WWC, Aguero and...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company