Cardiff v Watford: In-form Hornets to halt fragile Cardiff recovery

Watfords's Abdoulaye Doucoure
Watford's key man, Abdoulaye Doucoure
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Watford travel to Wales on Friday night in a bid to move about Wolves and up to seventh in the Premier League and Steve Rawlings thinks they're a fair price to do so...

"Watford have kept a clean sheet in six of their last eight in all competitions since the barmy Bournemouth draw on January 2 and the only team, other than Spurs, to breach the Hornets defence is Crystal Palace, and that was an own goal in a 2-1 Watford win at Selhurst Park. The Hornets are flying and they’re worth backing at around 6/4."

Cardiff v Watford
Friday February 22, 19:45

Will Cardiff's fragile rally last?

Back-to-back Premier League victories - 2-0 at home against Bournemouth and 2-1 away at Southampton - have seen Cardiff climb out of the relegation zone and from a low of [1.24] to be relegated, they can now be backed at odds-against to go down.

Huddersfield and Fulham are starting to look like lost causes but it looks like we're left with a bitter fight to avoid 18th place at season's end with the Bluebirds looking to finish above the likes of Burnley, Southampton, Newcastle and Brighton. The victory at St Marys last time out was a massive boost and they'll be keen to keep up the momentum but Cardiff haven't won three in-a-row in the top-flight since February 1961.

That's a misleading stat though. Cardiff were relegated from the old Division One in 1962 and they didn't reappear in the top-flight until they were promoted to the Premier League in 2013. So, it's only around two and half seasons in the top flight since they won three on the trot and they've already won as many Premier League games this season (7/26) as they did when relegated back to the Championship in the 2013/14 season (7/38).

Cardiff are doing better than many pundits thought they would but will this rally last?

Hornets flying ahead of Bluebirds clash

In contrast to Cardiff, Watford are enjoying a very successful season. They're safe from relegation worries, in to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup (where they'll host Crystal Palace), and they're sitting comfortably in eighth place in the Premier League.

Having started the season brilliantly, winning their first four games, the Hornets hit the buffers, winning just two of their next 11, away at Wolves and at home to bottom club, Huddersfield, but since losing 2-1 at home to Manchester City on December 4, Watford have lost just two of the next 11, 2-1 at home to Chelsea and 2-1 away at Spurs.

We've seen the odd strange result (3-3 at Bournemouth for example) but Watford are less erratic than they were and defensively, they've improved massively. They've kept a clean sheet in three of their last four Premier League games and that's as many as they'd kept in their previous 21! And if we expand that to include FA Cup ties, they've actually kept a clean sheet in six of their last eight in all competitions since the barmy Bournemouth draw on January 2 and the only team, other than Spurs, to breach the Hornets defence is Crystal Palace, and that was an own goal in a 2-1 Watford win at Selhurst Park. The Hornets are flying and they're worth backing at around 6/4.

Momentum with the visitors

Watford won the reverse fixture 3-2 in December and they beat Cardiff 4-2 away on the last occasion they met in the Championship in December 2014 but that was the only league defeat they'd managed to inflict on Cardiff in six visits to the Welsh capital.

Despite losing their last two, Cardiff have a decent recent record against Friday's visitors and prior to those two wins, the Hornets had won just one of their previous 12 encounters in the Championship with Cardiff, dating back to 2007. I'm not convinced we can read an awful lot in to that though and it's interesting to note that prior to that poor run, Watford had the upper hand. Between 2003 and 2008, the Hornets were unbeaten in eight against the Bluebirds.

In total, Cardiff have won 22, Watford 20 and there have been 14 draws between the two clubs but the results have gone in runs and it looks like momentum is with Watford at present.

It feels uncomfortable and maybe even disrespectful to consider the effect of the Emiliano Sala tragedy on the Cardiff team but in the three games prior to the crash on January 21, Cardiff lost 1-0 to Gillingham in the FA Cup, drew 0-0 at home to a dire Huddersfield side and they lost 3-0 at Newcastle. They looked in a real mess but since the tragedy, they've lost narrowly away at Arsenal (2-1) and they've beaten both Bournemouth and Southampton.

Since the awful tragedy, Cardiff have rallied quite remarkably but how long that rally can be maintained is debatable as the story inevitably moves on. How and when the payments will be made for the transfer and the details of the plane booking are now the narrative, with Sala's agent, Willie McKay, accusing Cardiff of "trying to throw me under the bus". It's messy as well as heart-breaking now.

Both sides are in solid form of late but Watford's is built on firm foundations whereas it could be surmised that Cardiff's is built on emotion. Watford are without doubt a far better team than Cardiff, they've scored as many away from home as have at Vicarage Road this season, they've conceded less on the road than they have at home and if they win on Friday night, they will have accrued an equal amount of points at home and away (20).

The Hornets are without the suspended Jose Holebas and Roberto Pereyra is an injury doubt but key-man, Abdoulaye Doucoure is set to start. He's been in the starting line-up for all ten of Watford's Premier League wins this season and they've failed to win any of the four games in which he hasn't started (D3L1).

Miserly Watford to keep goal tally low

Under 2.5 in the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market is odds-on and rightly so given how stingy the Watford defence has been. Cardiff have found the net in each of their last three games but they failed to score in four of their previous five in all competitions and the Hornets have kept clean sheets against better teams than the Bluebirds. The [2.16] about No in the Both Teams to Score market makes some appeal.

Same Game Multi

If you fancy combining two or more scenarios to build a bet that pays handsomely, click on the Same Game Multi tab at the top of the Sportsbook market and pick two or more selections to build a wager. For example, a draw at half time, under 2.5 goals and a Watford win pays £10.63 for £1 stake.

2018/19 P/L

Staked: 71.5 pts
Returned: 44.53pts
P/L: -26.97 pts

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