Shackling Deeney and cutting off Capoue... Key areas for Sunderland against Watford

Will Kone be fit to help tackle Deeney?
Will Kone be fit to help tackle Deeney?
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A potentially defining game in Sunderland’s relegation fight.

We seem to say that every week, but with Swansea playing out-of-sorts Middlesbrough, lose and the Black Cats could find themselves 10 points adrift when they head to resurgent Leicester.

So where will this pivotal clash be won and lost? Here’s three key areas...

Dealing with Deeney...

Odion Ighalo’s strange decline in form and subsequent departure for China has left Watford’s goal scoring hopes resting predominantly with Troy Deeney.

One of the league’s most powerful strikers, he offers a physical threat and Watford will not be afraid to play lofted passes into him early.

Sunderland have not always coped well with that kind of attack this season, making it crucial that John O’Shea can return from injury.

He performed impressively against Romelu Lukaku last month, the Belgian only getting free on the counter when he pulled away from O’Shea. Sunderland need the Irishman at his best again this weekend.

Cutting off Etienne Capoue...

The Frenchman started off the season in supreme form, leaving many onlookers wondering why Spurs had let him leave.

Watford’s primary creative force, scoring, gettng assists, controllng the tempo.

An injury to Roberto Pereyra has put all the playmaking responsibilities on him and his form has dipped.

Pressing him well and early could force Watford backwards. The perfect game for Ndong?

Finding the right balance in attack...

Sunderland’s second half performance against Burnley was much improved, with Seb Larsson drifting over to the right and Januzaj driving from the left.

Crucial chances were spurned, however, and Fabio Borini missed two perfect opportunities to show why he should partner Defoe up front.

As Moyes himself has said, throwing on attackers has rarely made a significant difference.

The Black Cats have often looked most threatening when Januzaj and Defoe have formed a partnership through the middle, with Ndong pushing on behind them. That might be the best formula for Vicarage Road.