Watford’s journey to the FA Cup semi-finals began with a 2-0 win at non-league Woking in Round Three. This was followed up with a victory of the same scoreline against Newcastle United at St James’ Park. A third away win, this time 1-0 at Queens Park Rangers put the Hornets into the last eight and there they beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Vicarage Road.
Wolves have also had to contest with two Premier League opponents en route to this stage of the competition. They saw off Liverpool 2-1 in the Third Round at Molineux, before surviving an almighty scare at League One Shrewsbury Town. The Shrews were a matter of seconds away from pulling off the shock victory before Matt Doherty’s 93rd minute equaliser. The replay was far from plain sailing for Wolves either as they ultimately prevailed 3-2 at Molineux.
Victory away at Bristol City in the Fifth Round away booked Wolves a home tie with Manchester United in the quarter-finals and Nuno Espírito Santo’s side won 2-1 to set up Sunday’s clash against Javi Gracia’s side at Wembley Stadium.
These two clubs will meet again in the league at Vicarage Road at the end of the month, giving one of them the chance for revenge. When they played at Molineux back in October, Watford left with all three points. Two goals in the space of as many minutes from Etienne Capoue and Roberto Pereyra deciding the match.
That result aside, there’s been very little to separate the two this season and their respective league records bear that out. Wolves are currently one point and one place above Watford in the table, sitting in seventh with the Hornets in eighth and also have one better goal difference. Both will think they have a great chance of finishing as the ‘best of the rest’ outside of those top six places.
Recent form has been inconsistent for both with Watford alternating between wins against Leicester, Crystal Palace and Fulham and defeats to Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United. Similarly Wolves have enjoyed recent victories against Cardiff and twice against United while also being beaten on the road at Huddersfield and Burnley. They say form goes out the window in these matches, but given the up and down results of both, recent results do little to help with predictions for this one.
Both teams run-ins include matches against teams competing for the title or those coveted top four places, but for now all attention and effort will be focused on Sunday’s semi-final and securing a place in this famous competition’s showpiece final in May.
There are match winners on both sides and Wolves will look to 15 goal forward Raul Jimenez to once against perform on the big occasion. The Portuguese striker has now confirmed his permanent transfer to the club this summer and having scored this season against the likes of Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United, he’s likely to give Watford’s back line plenty to think about.
For the Hornets, Troy Deeney has six goals since the turn of the year and he’s struck up a very productive partnership with fellow attacker Gerard Deulofeu. Much of Javi Gracia’s sides hopes will rest on their shoulders. Despite defeat, Watford were excellent at Old Trafford last weekend when they dominated Manchester United for long periods but ultimately lost 2-1. In midweek they scored four against now relegated Fulham and will be full of confidence ahead of this one.
Given how little there is to separate these two sides at the moment, the prospect of extra time looms large in what should be an enthralling encounter.
Watford vs Wolves team news
One decision that Watford manager Javi Gracia will have to make for this Wembley clash is whether to keep faith with Heurelho Gomes in between the sticks. The Brazilian veteran, who announced earlier in the season that he’d been retiring from the game this summer, has been in goal for all three of the Hornets FA Cup victories so far this campaign. But with Ben Foster in excellent form in the league, it remains to be seen whether Gracia will name his number one in the starting line-up on Sunday at Gomes’ expense.
Gomes aside, Watford were near enough full strength against Crystal Palace in the quarter-finals and will likely start with Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu in attack.
Wolves have no new injury concerns of their own and are expected to go with their first choice midfield three of Dendoncker, Neves and Moutinho, supporting the front two of Jimenez and Diogo Jota.
Watford vs Wolves form (last six competitive fixtures)