Not before time, given the amount of money the club has spent, Leicester City lifted themselves into the top ten with a win that was effectively sealed with two goals in a dominant first half. That the Foxes were half as effective in the second period must however concern their manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson: a better side than Watford would have taken advantage of their opponents' failure to make the most of their obvious superiority.

Not entirely surprisingly, Eriksson chose to accentuate the positive in his programme notes, pointing out that prior to Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Birmingham City his side had been unbeaten in seven league games and had not conceded a goal for 412 minutes. He did not mention the fact that four of those games had been drawn, and that the previous two – both at home – had been lost. However you looked at it, the sequence had left Leicester 13th. As well as being without their captain, Matt Mills, who on Sunday had become the third City player to be sent off this season, Eriksson chose to make three changes, bringing in Jermaine Beckford for Darius Vassell up front and Richie Wellens and the Manchester City loanee Michael Johnson for Neil Danns and Gelson Fernandes in midfield.

The Watford manager, Sean Dyche, also shuffled his pack, bringing in David Mirfin, Troy Deeney and the former Burnley and Wolves striker Chris Iwelumo.

Johnson, a former England prospect whose injury record is such that his start at Middlesbrough three weeks ago was his first in league football for three years, played in a withdrawn role in front of the back four. He was therefore a spectator as Leicester dominated the opening stages. Beckford thought he had scored when he turned in Sol Bamba's cross, only for the linesman to rule the ball had been out of play, and the former Everton striker missed his kick when Yuki Abe's hopeful ball reached him in the penalty area.

But the first goal was not long delayed. For Watford it was worryingly simple, Paul Konchesky's firm pass into the penalty area giving David Nugent the chance to control and in the same movement run clear before finishing calmly. It was his fourth goal in eight league starts.

Watford, who started the game just one place above the relegation places, had yet to offer a serious threat, and their cause was not helped when their on-loan Wolves winger Michael Kightly had to be substituted, halfway through the first half.

Nugent almost made it two when Andy King's pass put him through on the right side of the penalty area, but Scott Loach produced a fine one-handed save to his right. Unfortunately for the visitors, the goalkeeper was helpless when Abe crossed from the right and Beckford, entirely unmarked on the six-yard line, guided a header into the far corner of the goal.

Only a stretching Lloyd Doyley prevented Nugent sending Beckford clear at the start of the second half, but with the visitors unable to offer any real attacking threat it may have been inevitable that Leicester's intensity would drop off.

It was the extent to which it did so that must have worried Eriksson. City may have been fortunate that Joe Garner's penalty appeal for a trip by Lee Peltier was turned down shortly before the hour, and a smart passing move ended with Iwelumo slicing wide with 20 minutes remaining. King came closest to assuaging the crowd's growing impatience, but Loach made a fine save, as did Kasper Schmeichel from Jonathan Hogg's fierce volley.