Preston North End manager Alex Neil believes it is a very different Watford side to the one they faced at Vicarage Road at the end of November.
Speaking to iFollow PNE ahead of the clash with Xisco’s Hornets, the Lilywhites boss says the opposition have used a number of formations and tactics in recent weeks and his side must concentrate on their own display.
He said: “They have fluctuated their shape a little bit recently; that may have been down to the personnel available to them, I don’t think [Troy] Deeney was fully fit for the game. They may well go back to what they have been playing, or they might stick with that system.
“We just need to focus on trying to put in a good performance.
“We know Watford have good players. They have a lot of lads who have played regularly for a number of years in the Premier League and we know it is going to be a tough match for us. We need to approach it with confidence and hope that we can go and play well.
“There is a big difference in their style of play [since Xisco took over]. It is a different challenge for us. The game at Vicarage Road earlier in the season was one where we were decimated in full back areas – we didn’t have a fit full back at the club, so that made it really challenging.
“I think Watford are No.1 in the league for their home form, so we knew it was going to be a tough ask and it was a tough game for us.”
This is the second of seven games in 22 days for PNE and the gaffer acknowledges that it means there will have to be some rotation of the squad in the next few weeks.
“I think you have no option,” continued Alex. “The games come in such quick succession – I think we have six games in 18 days – so we know it is going to be a testing period for us, but equally, when we come out of this period we go into pretty much the last ten games, so this spell between now and then is going to be vitally important for every team.
“We are not setting our sights that far in front of ourselves. I said before the Blackburn game that we wanted to focus on that game and get the three points and we have to do the same with this one and when you probably take stock is when you are leading into the last ten games, in terms of where you are and what you need to do.”
Ahead of the win at Ewood Park the manager had spent a lot of time on the training pitch working on the change of shape and how they would approach the game, but being back to Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday, means that will not be possible for this one.
“We’ve got no time really. The lads had a day off and then on Sunday the weather here was horrific. We had a howling gale and the lads who didn’t play had a session, but the other lads – because we have so many games coming up – we just ticket them over.
“Today will be our first proper working day for this match, but we will get ourselves prepped and we will be ready for the game.
“When its like that we will decide how much to do the video based on the opposition or whether we are making any significant changes to the way we play.
“Sometimes you come up against opposition that are pretty straight forward and there is not a lot of detail and then you’ve got others where there is a lot of detail, where there is fluctuation in how they play, their shape, personnel, but equally how we are going to go about it.
“That will determine how much or how little tactical work is required for each game,” he added.
The game, which kicks-off at 7pm, will be live on iFollow PNE, on air from 6.30pm, with Jonathan Breeze joined by a former player for full-match commentary of the clash with Xisco Munoz’s Watford side – click here now to sign up for your match pass for just £10.