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Preview: Albion prepare for Watford opener

The wait is almost over — Premier League football returns for Albion on Saturday afternoon, as we make the relatively short journey to Vicarage Road to take on Watford, kick-off 3pm.

By Kieran Cleeves • 08 August 2019

For the second year running, we come up against the Hornets in Hertfordshire on the opening day, and there’s been plenty of change on the south coast over the summer months, as new head coach Graham Potter prepares for his first league game in charge.

New signings Leandro Trossard, Adam Webster, Neal Maupay and Aaron Mooy could also make their Premier League debuts for the club, after joining from KRC Genk, Bristol City, Brentford and Huddersfield respectively during the summer transfer window.

By Bennett Dean
Graham Potter.

TEAM NEWS:

Potter will be without three players — Jose Izquierdo, Yves Bissouma and Ezequiel Schelotto — when he names his first 18-man Premier League squad on Saturday afternoon.

A decision will be made on what system we play at Vicarage Road, having experimented with numerous formations during pre-season, including 3-4-3 in recent matches.

For Watford, Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra are both doubtful ahead of this weekend’s meeting, while Adalberto Penaranda and Nathaniel Chalobah will miss out.

By Paul Hazlewood
Ben Foster denies Florin Andone at the Amex last season.

LAST TIME WE MET:

Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster made a string of impressive saves to deny us a winning goal when the Hornets visited the Amex Stadium in February last season.



Foster kept out second-half efforts from Jurgen Locadia and Shane Duffy, as we rallied in search of breaking the deadlock, but our 21 attempts at goal compared to Watford’s five made no difference to the 0-0 scoreline.

In the reverse fixture, Roberto Pereyra’s double gave the hosts a 2-0 victory at Vicarage Road.

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Highlights: Albion 2 Valencia 1

PRE-SEASON PROGRESS:

Our pre-season schedule began with a 5-2 victory over FC Liefering in Austria, as Lewis Dunk, Florin Andone, Glenn Murray, Locadia and Trossard found the back of the net.

A young side took to the field against Crawley Town the following week, and Taylor Richards’s panenka penalty secured a 1-0 win at The People’s Pension Stadium.

We travelled to Aldershot the next day to play Sky Bet Championship opponents Fulham, but the Cottagers overturned a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 after Pascal Gross broke the deadlock.

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Highlights: Birmingham 0 Albion 4

Potter’s men came into their own at Birmingham City in our penultimate pre-season game, as Duffy’s brace and goals from Locadia and Murray sealed a 4-0 win.

Valencia visited the Amex Stadium for our final match before Saturday’s Premier League opener, and goals from Murray and Duffy overturned a one-goal deficit to seal a 2-1 victory over the La Liga club.

The Hornets got their pre-season schedule underway with a 2-1 defeat to Ajax, who reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League last season, but Javi Gracia’s men bounced back with a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

Etienne Capoue struck with the winning goal in a 1-0 win against Queens Park Rangers the following week, before ending pre-season with another victory against Real Sociedad, as Andre Gray slotted home twice in a 2-1 win at Vicarage Road.

By Paul Hazlewood
Andre Gray in action against Albion at Vicarage Road last season.

WATFORD’S ONE TO WATCH:

Andre Gray has been in fine form during pre-season, finding the back of the net four times in as many matches, as the Hornets completed their preparations for our visit to Vicarage Road.

Gray enjoyed his best goalscoring campaign for Watford last season, firing nine goals across all competitions, including seven in the Premier League.

The Hornets added Danny Welbeck to their attacking options ahead of the upcoming campaign, and the arrival of the forward should provide Gray with an added boost to keep his place in the team.

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