Watford vs Luton Town match preview: Form, h2h, injury news and score prediction
This Sunday, the highly anticipated M1 Derby takes place in Hertfordshire as Luton Town make the short journey to Watford. Coming into the tie, Luton are currently sat ten places above their rivals in the league table after a current soar in form. Recent wins against both QPR and Norwich City means that the Hatters will fancy their chances against the Hornets, with the home side coming off the back of a 3-0 loss at Millwall.
Watford's poor form has started a recent up rise in the fanbase as many supporters are disappointed with the investment into the squad this season, this has been evident on the pitch as the club's defence looks very vulnerable at times, especially against Millwall the other day when Tom Bradshaw was able to bag himself a first half hat-trick. Compared to Luton's start to the season, which has been nothing short of special as the Hatters sit fifth in the table, it has not been the best of starts for the Hertfordshire outfit. On top of that, they have the second-highest scorer in the league up front in Carlton Morris and a brilliant defensive record, only conceding 14 goals in 15 games.
For a newly relegated team, it has been an underwhelming start to the season from Watford's point of view, being mid-table and already having sacked Rob Edwards it could be another great chance for Luton to get one up on their rivals. Coming into the tie, Slaven Bilic takes charge of the Watford camp, but since the two teams' last meeting, Watford have had three other managers including Claudio Ranieri, Roy Hodgson and the aforementioned Edwards, meaning Bilic is the fourth manager since the last battle only back in April 2021 when Xisco Munoz was in charge.
The previous game went in Luton's favour as they beat the Hornets 1-0 at Kenilworth Road, although every Luton fan would've been delighted with the victory, it was bittersweet as Covid didn't allow for the fans to be at the game. Luton's incredible recruitment can be highlighted once again as the team that took on Watford over a year ago compared to Luton's starting eleven on Tuesday night only includes three players starting the match. Those players were Jordan Clark, James Bree and Elijah Adebayo, both Dan Potts and Sonny Bradley also featured against the Hornets and have played a massive role for the Hatters this term.
The reverse fixture in the 20/21 season at this weekend's venue Vicarage Road went in the Hornet's favour as they came out as 1-0 winners. However, there were no fans present at this tie either and supporters would've been just what the Hatters needed to push on to gain a draw that day. A twelfth man from the crowd could've edged the Luton players to find the equaliser they desperately sought, but it wasn't to be as their best chance was rattled against the woodwork instead of the back of the net.
The last game with fans present dates back to April 2006, a tie that resulted in a 1-1 draw. Just seasons before Luton's perish into the lower leagues, the rivals faced off in the Championship and after going a goal down the Hatters were able to find an equaliser and send the Watford fans home frustrated.
Luton come into the tie with minimal injuries but Fred Onyedinma is still a doubt after picking up a knock against Norwich and Reece Burke is still ruled out through a longer-term injury. Carlton Morris will still be eligible after avoiding suspension as he has already racked up the maximum amount of yellow cards allowed as well as seven goals. Pelly Ruddock, who featured against Watford last time out, still raises concern but hasn't been involved as much this season yet. When one midfielder is out for Luton another comes in as Alfie Doughty made his debut on Tuesday after returning from his absence.
As for the Hornets, midfielder Imran Louza picked up a first-half injury against Millwall on Wednesday evening and Hungbo and Cathcart may still be unavailable. One of Watford's main two threats, in Joao Pedro is also likely to be fit, coming on as a substitute in their last two fixtures after spending some time on the sidelines with injury.
Score Prediction: Watford 1-3 Luton Town
With so much at stake for both teams and fans with bragging rights on the line, both teams will for sure be up for the tie, it's just a question of who wants it more. Luton have looked the stronger side this season but Watford have a perfect opportunity to find their form in one of their most important games of the season, despite that Luton won't let a chance like this go easily as will be ready to pounce on the struggling Watford defence.