Watford take on Newcastle at lunchtime on Saturday with relegation from the Premier League still a distinct possibility for the hosts. Steve Rawlings previews the live match here...
“There’s just too much on the line to expect the Hornets to play freely and after a surge of support following the Norwich win, they look too short at less than 10/111.9.”
Watford v Newcastle
Saturday July 11, 12:30
Live on Prime Video
Have the Hornets done enough already?
Danny Welbeck's spectacular overhead winner against Norwich on Tuesday night - his first for the club and his first in the Premier League in almost two years - has seen Watford climb three points clear of the relegation places.
Matched at a low of 1/41.24 for the drop, the Hornets were once six points adrift of safety, having picked up only eight points in their first 14 Premier League matches, but they're now trading at 9/25.5 in the Relegation market.
Javi Gracia was sacked in September and Quique Sanchez Flores swiftly followed in December, and the long haul to potential safety only began when their third manager of the campaign, Nigel Pearson, took over.
Tuesday's defeat puts the Canaries ten points behind the Hornets at the very foot of the table and they're already preparing for life back in the Championship. Watford's points tally is up to 31 and after Thursday night's results, that's four more than Aston Villa and three more than Bournemouth, who both have an inferior goal difference.
Pearson had this to say after the win on Tuesday. "I thought we showed a lot of character - not always composure - but the result was more important than the performance. I feel for Norwich because they played pretty well and we've had to fight very hard. Their ability to keep the ball made it difficult.
"We desperately needed three points and we got it. It's only us who can keep us up, we've got to win enough points. Sometimes clubs are in a position like this is because there's not enough care. I know that's not the case here. We're going to do everything we can to stay up."
Pearson is correct to say Norwich played pretty well and the Canaries boss, Daniel Farke, was right when he said, "We won more or less all statistics but the one that matters is goals."
Norwich had the lion's share of the possession and more shots than Watford (12-9). On another day, and without Welbeck's brilliance, the bottom side could and probably should have got something and having lost their previous three in the Premier League, the Hornets aren't suddenly playing brilliantly. They haven't won back-to-back league games since January.
It's unlikely, but with Norwich as good as dead and with Bournemouth and Villa struggling so badly, Watford could even draw a blank in their last four games and still survive.
Magpies looking to bounce back after another City loss
Newcastle arrive at Vicarage Road, fresh off a 5-0 thumping to Manchester City on Wednesday night but it's a result that's probably best ignored. The Citizens have been imperious at home since the break.
The Magpies also lost 2-0 at home to Manchester City in the FA Cup two weeks ago but when they're not playing City, their form's been pretty decent of late. Take those two results out of the equation and they're unbeaten in their last seven in all competitions. Prior to Wednesday's thrashing, they were unbeaten in the Premier League in the their last six.
Steve Bruce's Newcastle won their final match before the break, away at Southampton, and they were impressive in their first game back, when they put high-flyers, Sheffield United, to the sword, beating them 3-0.
Their three Premier League games, prior to the City defeat, have all been against teams at the wrong end of the table so one could argue their form isn't that impressive. A pair of draws at home to Aston Villa (1-1) and West Ham (2-2) aren't anything to write home about but after their Cup defeat to City, they dismantled Bournemouth away 4-1 so another bounce back after Wednesday is perfectly possible.
Cagey affair on the cards
There have been at least three goals scored in 65% of Watford's Premier League home games this season and in 53% of Newcastle's away games. And anyone playing Over in the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market would have collected in all of Watford and Newcastle's last three matches, so it stands to reason that Over is an odds-on chance. I'm far from convinced we'll see a high scoring match though...
This could be a cagey affair and there have been two or less goals in each of the last four meetings between these two in all competitions.
In the Both teams to Score market, Yes is the odds-on favourite but if forced to pick I'd play No at odds against. As already stated, a tight match could be on the cards and the stats point to No too. Both teams have scored in only 41% of Premier League games involving Watford this season and in only 44% of Newcastle matches. It rises to 47% when Watford are at home but both teams have bagged in only 41% of Newcastle away games.
Odds-on Watford worth taking on
Watford have a decent recent record against Newcastle. They're unbeaten in all five Premier League encounters at Vicarage Road and the visitors have won just one of their last eight against the Hornets, although they're unbeaten in their last three in the Premier League.
The two sides played out a 1-1 draw at St James' Park way back in August and that was the result here last season when they met at the end of December, less than two months after Newcastle had won 1-0 at home.
Newcastle are now safe so Watford have far more to lose than the Magpies and that could play into the hands of the visitors. They bounced back nicely after their defeat to Manchester City in the F.A Cup and it would be no surprise to see them rebound again after Wednesday's thrashing. There's just too much on the line to expect the Hornets to play freely and after a surge of support following the Norwich win, they look too short at less than 10/111.9.
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Staked: 68 pts
Returned: 87.14 pts
P/L: +19.14 pts
Lay Watford for 3pts @ 10/111.88