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Eddie Howe set to return to his 'special ground' as Bournemouth take on Watford
After first visiting the ground as a boy, Saturday's visit to Vicarage Road will hold a special significance for Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe who has backed Watford to be among the Championship’s "front-runners" this season.
Watford’s home was the first professional stadium Howe ever went to as a child and the Cherries boss has fond memories of watching some of the Hornets' star players in the 1980s.
“Watford is a special ground for me because it was the first professional stadium I went to as a child,” Howe said.
“I was brought up in Chesham and watched the great side of the 1980s, including players like John Barnes. So it will be nice to go back to Vicarage Road.”
Howe’s Bournemouth side will arrive at the Vic full of confidence having made an encouraging start to their season.
The Cherries beat Charlton 2-1 in the league last Saturday before winning 1-0 against Portsmouth to progress to the second round of the League Cup where, coincidentally, they have been handed an away tie against Watford.
Howe is expecting a tough test this weekend and has tipped Watford to be leading the chase for promotion again come May.
“Gianfranco Zola has done an excellent job in building a football team that follows his philosophy and I believe they will be one of the front-runners again this season because they have improved their squad and will be even better,” Howe said.
“The way last season finished for them would have been heart-breaking with all the effort they put in. Full credit to them though because they won their first game which is always a tough examination of your character.
“Knowing the team and the manager, they will be competitive again with their unique style and that is what will make the game very tough.”
Howe also insisted he has no problem with the number of foreign loanees at Watford last season and feels the issue overshadowed some of the Hornets’ success.
“Watford were creative with the rules and found a loophole to serve them well,” he added.
“Fair play to them because they had a great season and played some excellent football, which is probably the most important point to make.”
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