Watford v Aston Villa: Pearson can steer Hornets to priceless win

Watford head coach Nigel Pearson
Nigel Pearson guided Watford to victory over Manchester United in his first home game

Simon Mail previews Watford's home match against Aston Villa and thinks new head coach Nigel Pearson can guide the relegation-threatened side to a victory...

"There is no doubt Nigel Pearson has made a positive impact in his short time at Watford and the hosts can continue their momentum by defeating Aston Villa. Victory in their last home game against Man United is a major confidence boost and the motivation of pulling within two points of their opponents is huge."

Watford v Aston Villa
Saturday, 15:00

Pearson plotting great escape

Watford looked down and out after earning just eight points from their first 15 matches but the arrival of Nigel Pearson, as their third permanent head coach of the season, has galvanised the club and given the fans hope of a great escape. Pearson kept Leicester in the Premier League in 2015 and has instilled belief in Watford's players, led by captain Troy Deeney, as they bid to avoid relegation.

The Hornets are still in deep trouble but Pearson has guided the side off the bottom of the table and within six points of 17th-placed West Ham.

Arguably Watford's best performance under Pearson came in their 2-0 defeat at Liverpool, his first game in charge, when they troubled the runaway leaders. His first match at Vicarage Road was a huge success as their improved defensive solidity and organisation helped them defeat a lacklustre Manchester United 2-0 last weekend. Gerard Deulofeu gave them the lead at Sheffield United before the hosts equalised in a 1-1 draw on Boxing Day.

Villa still looking over shoulders

Aston Villa made a promising start to life back in the Premier League following promotion but Dean Smith's side have been dragged into trouble in recent weeks.

Villa faced Southampton at home just before Christmas but slumped to a 3-1 home defeat. Their fourth successive league loss saw them drop into the relegation zone and influential midfielder John McGinn was also ruled out for up to three months with a fractured ankle.

Villa managed to stop the rot with a vital 1-0 home victory against Norwich on Boxing Day, a result which dropped the Canaries to the foot of the table.

The hosts were far from convincing, with goalkeeper Tom Heaton excelling, but Jack Grealish was again the provider as he set up Conor Hourihane's winner. The win took them within a point of safety and five points clear of their opponents at Vicarage Road.

troy deeney.jpg

Watford favourites to claim overdue home win

There is no doubt Pearson has made a positive impact in his short time at Watford and the hosts can continue their momentum by defeating Aston Villa. Victory in their last home game against Man United is a major confidence boost and the motivation of pulling within two points of their opponents is huge. Watford have won their last two games against Villa and are worth backing at 2.0621/20 to take a significant step forward in their bid to stay up.

Aston Villa are 3.814/5 to claim a notable win but there are reasons to swerve them. Their away form is the worst in the division, with Villa only managing to earn four points on the road. Seven defeats from nine games is poor and their leaky defence, conceding 19 during these matches, does not inspire confidence.

The draw is the biggest price in this market at 3.953/1 and appeals more than backing an away win. Villa know the significance of preventing Watford from winning and a draw would not be a terrible result for them.

Four of Watford's nine home matches have also ended in a stalemate so it merits consideration, but the Hornets desperately need a win and look well placed to achieve this in their final game of 2019.

No guarantee of high-scoring contest

There is so much at stake this weekend and it would be no surprise if it turned out to be a cagey affair. A low-scoring match is a realistic proposition, especially considering Watford's last five games all produced under 2.5 goals. Countering this, six of Aston Villa's last seven away league fixtures have seen at least three goals scored. The value in this market looks to be the unders at 2.24 but Villa's defensive frailties are slightly off putting.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

P/L 2019-20 season

Staked: 16pts
Return: 15.25pts
P/L: -0.75pts

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