Watford v Southampton: Hornets to sting favourite backers

Watford v Southampton: Hornets to sting favourite backers

Watford v Southampton: Hornets to sting favourite backers

Which Watford will turn up?

Claudio Ranieri has won one and lost one since he joined the Hornets, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. In his first game in charge, his side were woeful in their 0-5 home defeat to Liverpool – albeit the Reds were excellent.

They put that behind them at Goodison Park last weekend though, as they twice came from behind, to eventually win 5-2, with former Toffee, Josh King bagging a hat-trick.

Based on that, it’s hard to sum up where Watford are under Ranieri, but what we do know is that Emmanuel Dennis will be serving a one match suspension this week. Danny Rose has returned to full training after missing the trip to Merseyside, but given the torrid time he had against Liverpool, there is no guarantee that he will be reintroduced straightaway.

Southampton can’t rule out a relegation battle

The Saints let me down last Saturday as I firmly believed – and tipped – that they would beat Burnley at St Mary’s. They had to settle for a 2-2 draw though, despite having led 2-1 at one stage.

Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men were involved in midweek action too, taking Chelsea to penalties in the Carabao Cup. Two missed spot kicks saw them exit though, and the manager fielded a relatively strong XI.

Armando Broja was one of those to play at Stamford Bridge, and he picked up an injury, which means he misses the trip to Vicarage Road. That’s a blow given that he has scored two in two, but in better news for Hasenhüttl, James Ward-Prowse returns from suspension.

The visitors are the 2.427/5 favourites to take all three points on Saturday afternoon, with the hosts next in at 3.259/4, and the draw the slight outsider at 3.55.

This really is a tough game to call, as we don’t know which Watford will turn up, and we don’t know how much of a boost the returning Ward-Prowse will give Southampton.

Given the uncertainty, I actually think that the home win is a little bit of value at 3.259/4. Confidence should be high in the Watford camp following the five goals at Goodison, and Ranieri has had another week to implement his ideas on the training ground.

Southampton had a tough game in the cup in the week, and they are hardly firing on all cylinders this year. Their away record is played four, drawn two and lost two, and even at home, it’s just one win in five.

Watford, meanwhile, weren’t even doing that badly before they made a managerial change. They have won three times this season, and with five defeats from the other six, they are turning into a bit of a win or bust side.

Into the goal markets now, and Over 2.5 is trading at around the 1.9210/11 mark, with Under 2.5 at 2.0621/20.

As for the stats, Southampton’s matches have been the third lowest scoring this season. Their game average is 2.22 goals, with five of their nine ending with two goals or fewer.

Watford have a much higher average, at 3.22, but that is skewed by their last two results, and they too have had five of their nine seeing Under 2.5 backers collecting. He caveat to that though, is that both of those high-scoring matches have come in Ranieri’s first two in charge.

On the whole I think that this is a market to leave alone.

I have enjoyed some success with Bet Builders this season, so I am hopeful of at least going close with this week’s selection.

Two players who I fancy for a shot on target are the in-form Josh King, and the returning Ward-Prowse – who will be on all of Southampton’s dead balls. If we combine that with Over 3.5 Cards, and Over 9.5 Corners, we end up with a Bet Builder that comes in at just shy of 8/1.

Key Opta Stat

Southampton have won just one of their last 17 away league matches (D4 L12), beating Sheffield United 2-0 in March of last season. Saints are winless in nine away league outings overall (D2 L7), last going 10 without a win on the road in September 2015.