Watford worryingly close to the drop zone
Watford are one of the sides most affected by games being called off due to outbreaks of Covid.
Claudio Ranieri’s men have played just once since losing 2-1 at Brentford on December 10. That was a 4-1 home defeat to West Ham, their fifth straight defeat in the Premier League.
Ranieri has had two big results so far since being appointed in early October: a crazy 5-2 win at Everton when they blasted in four late goals and a 4-1 home victory over Manchester United that proved the final straw for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
But apart from those two highs it’s been a string of losses. The Hornets have suffered eight defeats out of 10 under the Italian and are just unable to keep other teams out.
They go into this one in 17th place, just two points above the drop zone, and are the only team in the top flight yet to keep a clean sheet this season.
After this game and a trip to Leicester, they then face the current bottom two: Newcastle (a) and Norwich (h). If results against their fellow strugglers aren’t good, Watford could be in a big trouble.
Conte demanding more from Tottenham
It would have been a huge surprise had Antonio Conte not made an instant impact at Spurs, such is his reputation as a coach. And, lo and behold, Tottenham fans are already seeing a difference.
For starters, he’s already become the first manager in the club’s history to go unbeaten in his first seven league games. He’s done that via four wins and three draws.
True, the fixture list has been pretty kind to him although the first real test – a 2-2 draw with Liverpool – garnered plenty of praise and, on another day, Spurs could have taken all three points.
Just as predictable is that he’s far from happy with his lot.
Conte said after the draw at Southampton: “My demands are very high because I am used to being competitive and to win – and, for sure, for me there is a big disappointment when we don’t win. I understand also the situation. Now for sure we have to work a lot and it won’t be easy to fight for something this season. We need to improve a lot.”
That 1-1 draw at Southampton followed a comfortable 3-0 home win over Crystal Palace on Boxing Day. The Saints played the final 50 minutes with 10 men so it was a frustrating game for Conte and Spurs, especially with VAR ruling out a Harry Kane ‘goal’ for a very, very marginal offside.
One thing Conte hasn’t managed yet since taking the reigns is an away win. This is obviously a great opportunity to change that.
The market shows Tottenham at 1.664/6 to bank all three points. Watford are 5.85/1 to get the victory while The Draw is 4.3100/30.
It’s hard to find a route in that points to anything other than a Spurs win.
For starters, only Norwich have lost more home games than Watford (six) this season. Secondly, the hosts have won just one of their last 17 games against Tottenham, losing 10 of those.
The problem with taking Spurs at a short price is that they’ve managed just two away wins and scored only six goals on the road. That’s the second fewest in the league.
That stat has to change though and I’m going to back the visitors to win this with something in hand. Therefore head to the handicaps and take Tottenham (-1) at 2.89/5.
While Watford’s lack of a clean sheet is 17 games and counting (actually 27 if you add in the previous season that they were in the Premier League), they do usually have a goal in them.
Both teams to score has landed in the last six Watford games and they’ve had some decent opposition in that run – Man Utd, Leicester, Chelsea, Man City, Brentford and West Ham.
It’s just 1.834/5 to register once more but Watford are hardly creating a glut of chances and surely that sequence will stop soon. No is 2.1211/10.
There was a stat ahead of Tottenham’s game on the 26th revealing that only Robbie Fowler had scored more Boxing Day goals than Harry Kane. The Spurs striker now shares that ‘honour’ after his goal against Palace.
Kane likes a key date on the calendar it seems as no player in Premier League history has scored more goals than him on New Year’s Day: Kane has five.
After another goal at Southampton, he has some rhythm in his game and I’ll take him to score another.
Son Heung-min is still Tottenham’s top scorer with eight and, in fact, only three players have scored more Premier League goals this season.
Kane and Son both to score is around 3.211/5 on the Bet Builder which is one option but I’m going to throw Emmanuel Dennis into the mix too. The Watford man also has eight PL goals (the same as Cristiano Ronaldo) and that includes five in the last six.
Kane, Son and Dennis to score in a Tottenham win is around 2322/1 so worth a small punt. Dennis anytime is 4.57/2 if you want to play him solo.
Tottenham boss Antonio Conte is unbeaten in five Premier League games against fellow Italian managers (W4 D1), including two 3-0 wins against Claudio Ranieri in 2016-17. Meanwhile, Watford manager Ranieri has lost each of his last four Premier League meetings with fellow Italians.