A crucial battle at the foot of the Premier League table takes place at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon, as Burnley seek to more or less condemn Watford to the drop.
The Hornets head into this game nine points adrift of safety in 19th spot, while the Clarets are hovering just two points above the dotted line.
Roy Hodgson is running out of time to salvage Watford’s top-flight status for another season, and only a win will do for the Hornets if they are to stay alive in the relegation dogfight for much longer, as an immediate return to the Championship becomes more realistic by the week.
A trip to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City normally only ends one way for Watford – with a glut of goals going past them. Gabriel Jesus single-handedly ensured that would be the case again, scoring four himself while also setting up Rodri in a 5-1 thumping.
The tiny flicker of hope Watford received from Hassane Kamara’s 28th-minute response was immediately extinguished by the red-hot Jesus, and a run of four straight defeats means that Watford are all but condemned to relegation, although they will not be completely down and out this weekend.
Victory for Burnley would leave Watford with a 12-point gap to make up to the Clarets with four games remaining, and they will also be welcoming Everton to Vicarage Road on May 11, but their status as Championship returnees may have already been confirmed before then.
The Hornets’ run of four straight defeats has also seen them concede an average of three goals per game in that stretch, and they could also set an unwanted top-flight record of 11 straight defeats on home turf, so every ounce of fighting spirit left in Hodgson’s side must come to the fore this weekend.
Sean Dyche’s hardcore supporters may be loath to admit it, but the sacking of the former Burnley boss has paid early dividends for the relegation-threatened Clarets, who have posted back-to-back wins to take control of their Premier League destiny.
After seeing off Southampton on their own turf, Burnley boosted their survival hopes by harming Wolverhampton Wanderers’ European aspirations in a 1-0 Turf Moor success, as Matej Vydra popped up with the only goal of the game in the 62nd minute on a day where Nick Pope’s contributions were also gratefully received.
The work of Mike Jackson and co should certainly be noted by those upstairs at Turf Moor, with the Clarets now 17th in the table and two points clear of Everton, but crucially, Frank Lampard’s side do have a game in hand and could still throw the cat amongst the pigeons.
Picking up a trio of successive wins on home soil is certainly the ideal way for Burnley to try to improve on their meagre tally of one Premier League away win in 2021-22 – only Everton have also claimed just a solitary win on the road in the competition this term – but it has been three years since the Clarets last won three top-flight games on the bounce.
Burnley were held to a goalless stalemate by Watford at Turf Moor back in February, but the Hornets have taken just one point from their last three home meetings with the Clarets, who will aim to fend off the threat of one relegation rival once and for all this weekend.
Watford Premier League form:
Burnley Premier League form:
We say: Watford 1-2 Burnley
Finding the back of the net at the Etihad should give Watford the belief that they can make the net ripple at least once in a game with so much at stake, but a revitalised Burnley are sure to take advantage of the Hornets’ ongoing defensive woes.
It has been nothing but defeat after defeat for Watford in front of their own fans recently, and while Hodgson will rally his troops as best he can, their fate should be virtually sealed as Burnley boost their own hopes of survival.