By Chris Harris
All Aidy Boothroyd wants for Christmas is a fit and in-form striker - but he'll have to wait until the January sales before he can address the problem which has blighted Watford's return to the Premiership.
A tally of 11 goals in 17 top-flight matches tells its own story. Watford have ruffled a fair few feathers in the top flight - particularly on home soil - but they patently lack the potency to turn performances into points. Expect Boothroyd to be busy when the transfer window opens next week.
As Watford prepare to welcome Arsenal to Vicarage Road, we spoke to Kevin Affleck of the Watford Observer about the Hornets' problems in attack, the impressive Ashley Young, how they can avoid relegation and the aerial onslaught the Gunners can expect on Boxing Day.
THE STORY SO FAR
"Watford's lack of strikers and lack of goals has been a chronic problem all season. They have performed really well with the exception of the Arsenal and Chelsea away games and Sheffield United at home, they have competed at this level but they haven't got the cutting edge to turn those performances into points. A lot of fans thought that Watford were a striker short in the summer and the injury to Marlon King means they now need a couple of strikers. At the moment Darius Henderson is leading the line and he hasn't found the net all season. Ashley Young is alongside him but he's normally a midfielder and he's having to play out of position."
MAN OF THE MOMENT
"Ashley Young has been in the England Under-21 team. He is very, very quick, deceptively strong and a very clever player. His delivery from set pieces is exceptional - that is Watford's main threat - and he is the one player in the squad with genuine quality. Ben Foster [the on-loan goalkeeper from Manchester United] has also been outstanding. He is tipped to push Paul Robinson really close and is due back for the Arsenal game. It will be interesting to see how his situation will pan out because Van der Sar has signed a new deal with United and they have Kuszcak on a three-year deal."
"Aidy Boothroyd may have some money left over from the summer and the board might give him a bit more for the January transfer window. The manager has said he needs five players, three of them in forward positions and ideally a central midfielder too. Watford have been linked with Freddie Eastwood and Collins John among others but as you'd expect Bothroyd is not going to show his hand."
CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM
"If they can perform like they did at the start of the season and add goals to those performances then there is an outside chance that Watford can survive. Teams don't like playing them, they are a tough nut to crack particularly at Vicarage Road. "
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
"Watford have created chances but Henderson has missed a couple of sitters - at Charlton and against Manchester United - which would have given him much-needed confidence. It was probably easier to score those chances but he's not the only guilty party in front of goal. Watford's defensive record is actually quite good - they have kept five clean sheets which is good for a team at the bottom of the table - and that really serves to highlights the problems at the other end of the pitch."
"Bothroyd will have them fired up for the Arsenal game and I expect them to come out with all guns blazing. Arsenal's defence can expect an aerial bombardment and it will be a testing evening for their centre halves. Watford's own defence played too high a line at Emirates Stadium and Arsenal were devastating on the break. Now Thierry Henry is injured it might be easier for Watford."