League Cup Preview: Watford v Wycombe Wanderers
The new 2012/13 season starts in earnest this weekend as Wycombe Wanderers make the short journey to Vicarage Road to face Championship Watford in the first round of the League Cup.
Due to the Olympic games being held in London, the league campaign doesn't begin until next weekend when the Blues visit York City. Alas for some it seems the cup clash with Watford is being seen as little more than another pre-season game.
What is considerably worse is one of those is none other than our goalkeeper Nikki Bull who is quoted in the Bucks Free Press as saying: "It's another game we're not expected to win. We can use it as a kind of pre-season game but the extra edge of wanting to do well in the cup games. We'll be testing ourselves."
He goes on to add: "Wycombe away at Watford, I don't think anyone's going to expect us to go there and win. We're looking to cause an upset and will give it our all, but it's all about York and getting the ball rolling. We've got a hell of a tough start."
If these quotes are genuine you do start to question why you would even bother going to the game if that's the attitude of one of our best players. I was under the impression the league cup was a competitive first team match. It is bloody expensive following our club away from home and these comments do not help one little bit.
Whilst it all adds to the general feeling of apprehension about the new season from a Wycombe perspective, those in yellow, red and black will trying to contain their excitement as they start the new season with new owners and a new manager in Gianfranco Zola. One of the finest players ever to play in the Premier League is always going to bring something a little bit extra to the party, even as a manager.
It would be fair to say the sacking of Sean Dyche was harsh. He did a fine job in his first season at Vicarage Road, guiding the side to an 11th place finish in the Championship. But when your face doesn't fit, there's not much you can do about it. The Hornets have brought in a number of new signings, five of whom have arrived on season long loans from the owners' parent clubs.
Whilst goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and defender Fitz Hall are the stand out signings, it is the loan capture of former Wanderers youngster Ikechi Anya from Granada that will interest Chairboys fans the most. Zola has adopted a 4-3-3 formation during pre-season and they have certainly been amongst the goals, hitting our League Two rivals Barnet for eight in one game.
It is not clear what Zola's first choice eleven will be but the side Wycombe will be facing could look something like this...
Lloyd Doyley - Martin Taylor - Nyron Nosworthy - Carl Dickinson
Jonathan Hogg - John Eustace - Prince Bauben
Sean Murray - Joe Garner - Mark Yeates
Subs: Jonathan Bond, Lee Hodson, Fitz Hall, Dale Bennett, Craig Forsyth, Piero Mingoia and Chris Iwelumo
Gary Waddock meanwhile will be without winger Dennis Oli and striker Matt McClure who are both sidelined with knee injuries. Defender Danny Foster also has a knee problem which has kept him out of pre-season and is unlikely to be involved. Defender Dave Winfield is still troubled by a calf problem and seems unlikely to be risked. Defender Leon Johnson has returned to training after an ankle injury and could be included in the squad.
Given the display against Brentford in midweek and the implications that the game isn't anywhere near the top of the list of priorities this season, it is difficult to predict the Blues starting eleven. How about this...
Marvin McCoy - Gary Doherty - Anthony Stewart - Charles Dunne
Matt Bloomfield - Matt Spring - Stuart Lewis
Joel Grant - Stuart Beavon - Sam Wood
Subs: Matt Ingram, Grant Basey, Leon Johnson, Jesse Kewley-Graham, Lee Angol, Gareth Ainsworth and Richard Logan
There is of course an elephant in the room with Beavon likely to leave the club before the end of the transfer window. Any prospective new club is unlikely to want him cup-tied and playing him could affect his value, which according to reports in the national media this week, has been set at a paltry £350k by WWFC.
Getting used to watching a side sans-Beavon is going to be a sobering experience. Sadly it is likely to be one of many and it could start at Vicarage Road this weekend where a repeat of the 5-1 scoreline from our very first visit back in December 1959 looks all-too likely. Except for our ability to get on the scoresheet that is!
In previous competitive meetings there have been 3 wins for Watford (all at Vicarage Road) and 2 draws (both at Adams Park)
1959/60: FAC2R Watford 5 Wycombe 1
1996/97: Lg1 Watford 1 Wycombe 0
1996/97: Lg1 Wycombe 0 Watford 0
1997/98: Lg1 Watford 2 Wycombe 1
1997/98: Lg1 Wycombe 0 Watford 0
The Man In The Middle
Saturday's referee is Carl Berry from Surrey who was promoted to the National List of referees in 2009. His most recent Wycombe game was last season's 3-1 win over Bristol Rovers in the Football League Trophy.
Watford 5 Wycombe Wanderers 0