Quique Sanchez Flores is forging quite a reputation as one of the smartest tactical minds in the Premier League. He gets his kicks out of spotting a chink in the armour of the opposition or devising a way to stop them.
He told us this week that he is occasionally spotted in the supermarket near his home in Hampstead. “They say, ‘Ah, Watford manager’,”. I say, ‘Yes'”. If his players manage to execute his detailed plan this afternoon to nullify Jamie Vardy he will, among many other things, be known for the next couple of weeks during the international break as the coach who stopped the livewire England striker from scoring in a ninth successive Premier League game.
“It is impossible to have the idea to think about just about Vardy,” Sanchez Flores said. “We have to think about the collective and [Vardy’s form] depends on the rest of his teammmates. We have to think what they are able to do on the pitch. It is important to know where the balls [to Vardy] are coming from.”
Expect Watford to defend much deeper than they did against West Ham and limit the space available for Vardy to use his electric pace and run in behind. The head coach refers to this type of style as ‘a low block’.
“I don’t know Vardy but he is a very good striker,” said Etienne Capoue. “He showed last year he was very good and he has confirmed that this year. I am happy for him as he works hard on the pitch and deserves to be top scorer. I hope he will not score Saturday.”
The game at the King Power Stadium pitches Sanchez Flores against Claudio Ranieri, the man he replaced at Valencia in 2005.
“I know him outside of football too,” said Sanchez Flores. “I see him at different events. I respect him a lot and he respects my work.”
Doesn’t he just.
“They did not start so well but this is normal as they change the coach and a lot of players,” said Ranieri. “But now they are in good condition and it will be a very interesting match.”
Watford have scored twice in a game three times on the road this season and goals could be there for the taking this afternoon as only the bottom six have conceded more than the Foxes. However, only Manchester City have scored more.
“It is a very important match against Leicester,” said Sanchez Flores. “Leicester is an amazing team and it is a tough stadium. They finished really well last season with many consecutive wins. They are a very tough team at this moment. They have a compact shape, play well in defence and are really dynamic and dangerous in offence. We analyse this team and they have reason to be at the top. We respect a lot this team but we know our capabilities and recognise that we are improving. We don’t change too much after we win or or lose because the plan is the plan. We try to keep normality in the group and correct our mistakes.”
The shootout between Vardy and Troy Deeney will be fascinating. Click HERE to read how their careers have followed a similar path.