Crystal Palace travel to Watford for the Premier League's only 15:00 kick off on Saturday, as both teams look to make certain of Premier League survival. Steve Rawlings previews the match here...
“We have to go all the way back to October to find the last Premier League tie in which the Hornets failed to score at home and Crystal Palace have found the back of the net at least once in their last nine away.”
Watford v Crystal Palace
Saturday April 21, 15:00
Hornets have lost their sting
After a brilliant 4-1 win over Chelsea at Vicarage Road at the start of February, defeat at West Ham was followed by back-to-back 1-0 home wins against Everton and West Brom but Watford have picked up just one point from their last five Premier League matches, courtesy of 2-2 draw at home to Bournemouth a fortnight ago, and it's a good job they started the season so well.
With 37 points already in the bank, the Hornets look safe now and its thanks largely to a terrific start to their campaign. They won 15 of a possible 24 points in their first eight matches and they were beaten just once, by Manchester City.
Palace finishing the season well under Hodgson
In stark contrast to Saturday's opponents, Crystal Palace started the season abysmally, losing their first seven matches and winning just one of their first 12.
The transformation of the team once Roy Hodgson had settled in between October and February was quite incredible and Palace's 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture in December lifted them out of the bottom three. It came in the middle of a run that saw them lose just once (at home to Arsenal) in 12 Premier League matches.
The Eagles lost four in-a-row between February 10 and March 10 but always to tough opponents (Everton and Chelsea away and Spurs and Manchester United at home) but they've managed to arrest the slide since and they're strongly fancied to avoid the drop with a reasonable looking run-in.
Eagles the worthy favourites but the value may lie elsewhere
Palace haven't lost to a team in the bottom half of the table since Newcastle beat them 1-0 away back in October and they haven't lost to Watford since 2009. The Hornets won 2-0 in the Championship nine years ago but in the six games played since, Palace have won three and drawn three.
A late Mo Salah strike saw Liverpool pinch all three points at Selhurst Park on the last day of March but the Eagles are finishing the season strongly and in the last month they've shared the spoils with Bournemouth away and they've beaten Huddersfield away and Brighton at home.
Both sides look safe, but Palace only have 34 points and they really need to add to that tally. Their last three games are Leicester at home, Stoke away and West Brom at home, so their remaining fixtures don't look awful but a win on Saturday would see them climb above Watford on golf difference and that would, in all likelihood, see them safe.
Given how the two teams have been performing of late, Palace are the rightful favourites in the outright market but given they've only won four times away from home this season, and that they've conceded in each of their last 11 Premier League games, I'm going to reluctantly swerve them and concentrate on the side markets...
Stats suggest goals are on the cards
We have to go all the way back to October to find the last Premier League tie in which the Hornets failed to score at home (1-0 defeat to Stoke) and Crystal Palace have found the back of the net at least once in their last nine away. As mentioned above, the Eagles have only kept one clean sheet in their last 11 Premier League encounters so Yes in the Both Teams to Score market looks the way to go and Over 2 ½ Goals looks likely too.
There have been three goals or more in 65% of Watford's Premier League home games and in 47% of Palace's away games so odds-against looks generous.
Chris Kavanagh is the man in the middle so we're likely to see a few cards. Chris has only issued four reds so far this season (two in the premier League) but three of them have come in his last seven games and in 26 games officiated upon in total this season, he's never not brandished a card and he's issued 85 yellow cards in total. That equates to an average of 3.27 per game and that average decreases only fractionally if we separate out the 13 Premier League games he's overseen, with the average dipping slightly to 3.23.
Staked: 31.5 pts
Returned: 43.14 pts
P/L: +11.64 pts