Vicarage Road Stadium

Next Game

Watford v Udinese

Saturday, 02 August 2014, 15:00

Friendly Match

Greenhous Meadow

Last Game

Shrewsbury 2 - 2 Watford

Saturday, 19 July 2014, 15:00

Friendly Match

Hornets still buzzing?

Chris Burton reflects on how Watford made the play-off final and profiles one of their danger men.

Last Updated: 26/05/13 at 12:36

Few expected Watford to be among the Championship frontrunners at the start of the season, with another summer of change at Vicarage Road suggesting that it might take a while for everything to click.

The potential was clear for all to see, with ambitious owners turning to Gianfranco Zola in an effort to raise the profile of the club and attract top talent. Zola was, however, drafted in with no prior experience of life in the Championship, as a player or coach. He, along with a number of new recruits, was charged with the task of learning as he went along. The Italian has proven to be a quick learner, with Watford recovering from a slow start to steadily climb the second tier standings.

From sitting just above the drop zone in mid-September, they hit the top six in early December. They would remain inside the promotion-chasing pack for the remainder of the campaign, with a top-two standing enjoyed at one stage. They were unable to cling on to that lofty perch, though, and ended up missing out on automatic promotion on the final day of the season - with a 2-1 defeat to Leeds United dashing their dreams.

Zola has been able to pick his players up from that disappointment and have them ready to go again. Play-off semi-final opponents Leicester City slipped in via the back door and were full of confidence heading into a two-legged tie, but the Hornets wrapped up a 3-2 aggregate success in the most dramatic of fashions.

History suggests that the side finishing third in the regular season ends up running out of gas when the play-off chase starts - with only 10 sides having secured promotion in the last 26 years - but five of the last seven Wembley winners have come from that position.

Matej Vydra: Named Championship Player of the Year for 2012/13

Danger man - Matej Vydra

It is fair to assume that most Watford fans had heard little about Vydra when he was drafted into the Vicarage Road ranks last summer.

Among those to take advantage of the Pozzo family links at Udinese, the Czech forward arrived in English football with little senior experience at the top level of which to speak. He is, however, only 21 years of age and needed someone to offer him a stage on which to shine. Watford have provided that platform, sat back and lapped up what he has to offer.

Vydra has been a revelation for the Hornets this term, plundering 20 goals in Championship competition to be named second tier Player of the Year. His efforts - which have included six braces - took Watford agonisingly close to automatic promotion, but they are now looking for him to spearhead a play-off push.

There was plenty of pressure on Vydra to deliver the goods ahead of a semi-final meeting with Leicester, but he has shown enough this season to suggest that he is not one to hide when the going gets tough and stepped up to the plate in spectacular style against the Foxes by netting a crucial second leg brace.

Various reports have claimed that he could be turning out in the Premier League next season regardless of how Watford fare in the promotion lottery, with his exploits having been noted higher up the football food chain.

Watford will, of course, be hoping to see him back at Vicarage Road next season, but he remains under contract at Udinese and they may have to go up in order to get a deal done and fend off interest from elsewhere. For now, though, Vydra's focus is locked purely on a day out at Wembley and the Premier League Promised Land - which is now well within reach.

Player Vydra, Matej
Games Played 43
Minutes Played 2728
Goals 22
Shots, Total 63
Conversion Rate 34.9%
Shooting Accuracy 65.1%
Assists 4
Chances Created (inc. assists) 4

Manager view - Gianfranco Zola

Gianfranco Zola: Has picked Watford up

"Wembley has always been good to me and I hope that continues. When you talk about Wembley, you are talking about one of the temples of the game.

"I hope I can bring some good luck to my team as well. We have done well to reach Wembley, but it's not the end of the story yet."

Fancy a flutter?

After edging out Leicester to keep themselves in promotion contention, Watford are now strong favourites at 8/11 to make the step up into the Premier League.

They are 11/8 to claim victory over Crystal Palace in 90 minutes, while they can be taken at 10/1 to win in extra-time and 11/1 to prevail on penalties.

Click here to see all available markets.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

C

lassic management. Build them up and then knock them back. Raise expectations and then dampen them. Create a dynamic where by you demand the most from your team, but where the team are given room to manoeuvre unexpected or unwanted results. Classy work by Van Gaal, he really reminds me a lot of me. A smart cookie, make no doubt.

hump3.
Van Gaal: 'I struggle for first three months'

H

e will be the England left back for ten years or more, and then you will have to thank MUFC for that. *smiles*

london saint
Shaw: Criticism spot on

P

urely because of that little diva moment he had last night, I don't want him coming to my club. DESTROYED ? Grow up and give something back to the club that helped put you up there on the world stage.

bale doubt
Saints' Schneiderlin stalemate

Footer 365

Diego Costa gets two assists Chelsea's 3-1 win over Vitesse Arnhem

Diego Costa grabbed two assists as Chelsea beat Vitesse Arnhem 3-1 on Wednesday

Women's football: Natasha Dowie says Fara Williams can earn 200 caps

Fara Williams has enough ability to earn 200 caps for England, according to Liverpool Ladies team-mate Natasha Dowie

Women's football: Dunia Susi and Rachel Brown-Finnis out of England's game with Sweden

England Women’s boss Mark Sampson has been hit by two withdrawals from his squad ahead of Sunday's game against Sweden

Mail Box

Divock Origi Is Like Connor Sammon (Sort Of)

One Mailboxer inserts his tongue into cheek to offer his thoughts on Liverpool's newest signing. Plus thoughts on league-owned clubs, badges, and swearing...

Mails Come From A Land Down Under

We have an example of league-owned clubs from Australia while Kiwi boys want more respect for refs. Plus, Van Gaal won't stick with 3-5-2 and worried if Koeman will cut it...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property