Champions Leicester City have been struggling away from home, while Watford hope to bounce back from their hammering at Anfield. Kevin Hatchard anticipates an enthralling encounter.
"Four of Watford's five Premier League home games have featured four goals or more, and Leicester have been conceding far too often on the road."
Watford v Leicester City
Saturday November 19, 15:00
You never want a bad result heading into the international break, so it was far from ideal for Watford to run into a Liverpool side with all guns blazing. The Hornets were squashed 6-1 at Anfield, overwhelmed by an attacking masterclass from Jurgen Klopp's swashbucklers. To make matters worse, the tanning ended a four-match unbeaten run for Walter Mazzarri's side.
Considering Mazzarri has no previous Premier League experience and has limited English skills (I mean he can't speak the language, not that he can't queue properly or bake a scone), it's been a decent start to the campaign for a club that has to prioritise survival at this stage of its development. The Hertfordshire outfit have a nice little five-point cushion in the race to avoid the drop, and four of their 11 games have been against Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.
Good home form is often the key to survival, and since losing at home to both Arsenal and Chelsea, Watford have taken seven points from three games at Vicarage Road. Their home games tend to be entertaining, with only the 1-0 win over Hull City featuring fewer than four goals.
Striker Stefano Okaka is back in contention after a two-month injury lay-off, but with Isaac Success still out, Mazzarri is likely to persist with the tried and trusted strike partnership of Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney. Ighalo has just one league goal this term, while Deeney has been stuck on 99 goals for the club for more than a month. Luckily, other players have been chipping in - Opta tell us eight different Watford players have scored in the league this season.
The champions of England are close to having that ginormous Premier League trophy wrenched from their grasp, but the King Power Stadium is still bathed in the warm glow of success. The Foxes are within touching distance of the Champions League's knockout phase, and reaching the competition's last 16 will be yet another remarkable achievement for Claudio Ranieri's fearless charges.
The Foxes were never likely to repeat their extraordinary exploits of last season, and as long as a relegation battle doesn't ensue, I suspect Leicester fans will be happy just to enjoy the European adventure. However, there is work to be done, with Leicester just two points above the bottom three after winning just one of their last six Premier League games. The Opta stats show that Leicester are ten points worse off than they were at this stage of last season.
It's quite difficult to assess Leicester's away form, because the fixture computer decided to put their first few road trips on the "EXTREME" difficulty setting. Their defeat at patched-up Hull City was inexcusable, but they then had to endure visits to Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs. Their 1-1 draw at White Hart lane yielded their first away point of the campaign, and yet in the Champions League they have won in Bruges and secured a decent draw in Copenhagen.
Striker Jamie Vardy is on a high after his fine diving header for England against Spain, but his club form has taken a nosedive. The speedster has gone 12 games without a goal for the Foxes, but his fellow forward Islam Slimani has picked up some of the slack, scoring four goals in nine appearances since joining from Sporting.
Midfielder Danny Drinkwater and forward Demarai Gray are Leicester's main injury doubts. Drinkwater has damaged ribs, while Gray left England U21 duty early because of a minor knock.
The market is split here, with champions Leicester slight favourites at [2.74]. It may seem counter-intuitive to think about backing a side that has only picked up a single point on the road, but it's tough to assess the Foxes' road form because their fixtures have been really difficult. This is still largely the side that won the title last term, and they have the quality to get a result at Vicarage Road against a side potentially still feeling the after-effects of that mauling at Anfield.
If you back the visitors Draw No Bet at [1.93], you get a winner if the Foxes win, and your stake is returned if the game is drawn.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
The bet that has really caught my eye is backing Over 2.5 Goals at [2.16]. Four of Watford's five home games in the league have featured four goals or more, and overall an Over 2.5 Goals bet has landed in six of their 11 PL matches. Eight of Leicester's 11 Premier League games have seen at least three goals scored, so [2.16] seems a big price to me.
Alternatively, you may be tempted to back Both Teams To Score at [1.84]. Of the 22 league games these two teams have played this term, 14 have seen both teams find the net.
Back Over 2.5 Goals at [2.16]