Steve Evans is planning to gamble by changing his system and line-up at Vicarage Road on Saturday in an attempt to “catch Watford out” and conjure an FA Cup upset.
Leeds United’s head coach said he is wary of giving Watford the advantage of “predicting what we’ll do” after using unfamiliar tactics to unsettle Middlesbrough at Elland Road on Monday night. Evans used winger Stuart Dallas in a more central midfield role in a goalless draw with Boro and said the changed formation had allowed Leeds to dominate long stretches of their game against a side competing for automatic promotion from the Championship.
A strong performance set his players up for this weekend’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at Watford, but Evans admitted he is likely to rethink his approach ahead of a meeting with a team that’s lodged in the top half of the Premier League. Leeds are due to decide tomorrow whether striker Chris Wood will be fit to play after a hamstring strain and right-back Gaetano Berardi is hoping for a recall having resumed full training on the back of three months out with an ankle injury.
Evans said: “We’ll look at a change of personnel and also a change of system because we need to find a way of catching them out. We need to do what we did to Middlesbrough and get on the front foot straight away.
“I’ve no doubt that when Middlesbrough got our teamsheet on Monday they thought we’d play the same way as we did in the previous game against (Nottingham) Forest. I think that let us dominate early on. I don’t want to give Watford the benefit of predicting what we’ll do.
“It’s a tie we can win, I’ve said that already, but we’ll have to play exceptionally well and defend exceptionally well down there. Chances will be at a premium so we have to take them. And if Watford play as well as they can, we’re going to need a lot of good luck.”
Wood is rated 50-50 to make United’s squad for the trip to Vicarage Road and a decision is still to be made on Berardi. The Swiss defender last played in a 0-0 draw at Charlton Athletic before Christmas.
Watford, meanwhile, climbed to ninth in the Premier League with a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace last weekend and are well clear of the fight against relegation after their promotion from the Championship last season.
Manager Quique Flores could make changes himself but promised to aim for the latter stages of the FA Cup, saying: “We have to do our best in the cup because I know our fans really want it.
“All the players deserve to play and that’s why this season in the cup I try to put them in the first XI. We have 25 players and we can play a strong team. We have a lot of players who train really, really well and deserve to play.”