Having come within one victory of securing a return to the top flight for the first time in six years back in May, the onus was on Watford to challenge for promotion once more this term.
With Kevin Phillips’ extra-time penalty kick at Wembley condemning the Hornets to their seventh season of Championship football, the Hertfordshire based outfit were expected to produce similar form when the campaign got underway back in August.
Currently residing in 11th position in the Sky Bet Championship league standings with 42 points acquired so far however after a testing first half to their domestic season, the Hornets will be hoping to stage a late rally for a play-off berth in the final few months of the campaign.
Just eight points at present separate Watford from sixth placed Reading, but the Hornets have certainly staked their claim for a top six finish in recent weeks with three wins in their last five outings.
Following a busy summer at Vicarage Road, with the club yet again working with with sister club Udinese as former loan signings Marco Cassetti, Almen Abdi and Cristian Battocchio signed permanent deals, the Hornets began their campaign with two consecutive victories including a 6-1 annihilation of
Their bright start however came to an end at the start of October, with the team going on to secure just two wins before the end of the calendar year and suffering six defeats in the process – one of which was inflicted on them by Wanderers courtesy of a Jermaine Beckford strike.
The unexpected departure of manager Gianfranco Zola on December 16 was met with the unveiling of Giuseppe Sannino just two days later – the Italian’s first managerial post outside of his native homeland.
His arrival in England has sparked an upturn in fortunes for the Hornets though, with five draws, four wins and just two defeats in the league to his name so far.
Having seemingly steadied the ship, Sannino will be hoping that his side can continue their fine form of late as they enter the final furlong of the season.
OPPOSITION CAMP'S VIEW
Frank Smith, Deputy Group Sports Editor at the Watford Observer
"Watford have become very resilient since Beppe Sannino’s arrival in December.
"He has introduced superb defensive organisation and this has resulted in Watford keeping four clean sheets in their last five matches.
"The five-game unbeaten run has helped move the club within eight points of the play-off places and whilst the head coach and players don’t want to talk about it, the Hornets are not out of the race for the top six just yet.
"Watford were the Championship’s entertainers under Gianfranco Zola last season, but there has been a considerable shift in the style of play since he was replaced by Sannino.
"They may not be playing free-flowing attacking football at present but the Golden Boys are very effective and are a match for any team in the division, like they showed against league leaders Leicester City earlier this month, when the Foxes needed an injury-time goal to salvage a draw.
"On Saturday, I expect it to be a very tight affair and predict it will be a low-scoring draw but if a team is going to nick the win then I expect it to be Watford."