Now under their third manager of the season, Watford’s starting line-up has seen no shortage of shuffling. However, even when considering a manager-by-manager basis, the midfield has been ever-changing, with the perfect formula hard to determine. Moussa Sissoko has tied down a starting role, Imran Louza should be an untouchable starter, while winter-signing Edo Kayembe fights it out with the former, as well as Tom Cleverley and Juraj Kucka, for a starting role. However, there is a new face set to return from injury after a long time on the sidelines – someone who has what it takes to ideally round out the midfield three – summer-signing Peter Etebo.
Peter Etebo Nearing Injury Return
Peter Etebo Featured for Watford Academy
After picking up a quad injury in the Hornets’ sixth match of the season in late September, the 25-year-old was forced to a prolonged period on the sidelines. He featured in all of the Hornets’ first half-dozen matches of the campaign, starting the first four in a deep-lying midfielder role.
As he was one of Watford’s best performers over the first few matches, his injury was devastating. 18 matches later, they have only won three times in his absence.
On Monday, Etebo played 45 minutes for the Hornets’ youth setup, signalling he is edging closer to a much welcomed, and perhaps needed, return.
Reinforcement Could Prove to Be Pivotal
Even if Etebo does not come into the starting line-up right after finding full fitness, the added depth he provides will be crucial. Sissoko, Louza, and Kayembe have all done sufficiently well when on the pitch, but the ranks behind them have been underwhelming. Cleverley and Kucka have been off the pace for many matches, frequently making poor choices, losing possession, and lacking their typical aggression when defending.
Etebo provides aggression, consistency, and another solid focal point in transitioning defensive phases of play into attacking phases. In the rigid structure sought after by Roy Hodgson, a midfield three (which is the formation they set up within their recent triumph over Aston Villa) of Sissoko, Louza, and Kayembe or Etebo would be more than sufficient to give the Hornets a solid chance at avoiding the drop.