Manchester City have work to do to secure the top-three finish they want, and Kevin Hatchard believes they can take advantage of a distracted and listless Watford...
"Watford have drifted into a tailspin, and aren't defending well at all. Manchester City arrive with momentum and motivation, and should win comfortably."
Watford v Manchester City
Sunday May 21, 15:00
Watford have once again achieved their primary objective, which is to retain Premier League status. However, they will once again part company with their manager as the summer approaches. Last year, Quique Sanchez Flores left after delivering a 13th-place finish, and now Walter Mazzarri will move out of Hertfordshire after racking up at least 40 points.
On the face of it this may seem harsh, but most people who have the Hornets in their hearts will tell you this separation was inevitable. Mazzarri's frosty relationship with his players hasn't helped matters, and when you lose the respect of an influential figure like skipper Troy Deeney, things aren't likely to improve for you. A failure to learn English also counted against a manager that has overseen a run of five straight Premier League defeats.
Although Watford showed some fight in their chaotic 4-3 defeat at Chelsea on Monday, the team simply isn't performing well in any area. They have leaked 15 goals in the last seven games, and have scored in just two of those matches. Opta tell us that Watford have never lost six top-flight matches in a row, but their recent record against Manchester City doesn't make for encouraging reading - Watford have lost their last three encounters with the Citizens, and they haven't won any of their last seven games against them.
By his own admission, Pep Guardiola is lucky not to be following Mazzarri into the ranks of the unemployed. His first campaign at the helm of Manchester City has not been a fruitful one in terms of results. City still need a point to make mathematically sure of Champions League qualification, and they might need more than that to guarantee third spot. City fell short in the domestic cup competitions, and perhaps the most damning defeat of all was the naïve capitulation in Monaco, a loss that saw City tumble out of the Champions League two rounds earlier than they had in the previous campaign.
But Guardiola shouldn't be written off. He will have spent this season assessing his players, improving the ones he wants to keep, and laying the groundwork for replacing the ones he will cast aside. Complacency isn't in his make-up, and he will have been wounded by the failures of this campaign. Those who believe he has been found out, who assert that La Liga and the Bundesliga are weaker and more straightforward competitions to win than the Premier League, could be in for a rude awakening next term.
City are finishing the season with plenty of momentum. They have won their last three league games, scoring ten goals and conceding just two. Since the start of February, they have come up short in away matches at Chelsea and Arsenal, but have done better at weaker sides, winning at West Ham, Bournemouth, Sunderland and Southampton.
City are on a roll, and have plenty of motivation, with third spot and even fourth still up for grabs. Watford are totally devoid of form and momentum, the manager is leaving, and they just want to get the season over with. City have won their last three games against Watford, and I think they'll win this too. The outright price of [1.32] isn't too attractive, but if you back City to win by two goals or more using the Asian Handicap, you can boost the price to [1.79].
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Over 2.5 Goals is the overwhelming favourite here at [1.49]. Eight of City's last nine Premier League games have featured three goals or more, and Watford are leaking plenty of goals.
However, if you want an argument to back unders at a hefty [2.88], consider the following. Watford's last four Premier League games at Vicarage Road have featured fewer than three goals, and the reverse fixture between these sides ended 2-0 to City.
2016-17 Kevin Hatchard English Football P/L
Points Staked: 56
Points Returned: 53.31
P/L: -2.69 points
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