Struggling Swansea may be able to land the first punch against a leaky Watford defence on Saturday, says Dave Tindall...
"Silva's side have bagged the opener in just 30% of their 10 home games... surprisingly, Swansea have scored first in 40% of their away games."
Watford v Swansea
Saturday, 15:00 GMT
Hornets boosted by Boxing Day win
After taking just one point from 18 following a 3-0 win at Newcastle, Watford finally gave their fans some Festive cheer with a narrow 2-1 win over Leicester.
And yet, had Jamie Vardy not missed a one-on-one he normally has for breakfast and Kasper Schmeichel not palmed Abdoulaye Doucoure's cross into his own net, Watford's miserable run would have continued.
The margins are fine.
Still, winning boosts confidence however it's achieved and a home game against the Premier League's bottom club looks an excellent chance for Marco Silva's men to kick on and improve an iffy record at Vicarage Road which shows won three, drawn three, lost four.
Swansea stuck at the bottom
Swansea were bottom at Christmas last season and survived, becoming the third side in four years (after Sunderland and Leicester) to avoid the drop despite propping up the table when the festive turkey was being served.
And yet, last season they had Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente to get them out of trouble. This time, the cupboard looks bare.
Without those two, the Swans have managed a meagre 11 Premier League goals in their 20 matches and since mid-October they've lost nine of their 12 top-flight matches, winning just once over second-bottom West Brom.
We shouldn't judge them on a fairly predictable 5-0 loss at Anfield on Boxing Day and if you want to keep making excuses for them, their run of seven away losses includes defeats at Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea, Burnley and Arsenal. That's four of the top seven while Everton have won more home games than Liverpool.
Watford clear odds-on
For a team that has conceded more home goals than anyone (21) and won just three out of 10 at Vicarage Road, the 1.728/11 for a Watford win should make potential backers feel a little uneasy.
Then again, it's hard to see a queue forming to back Swansea at 5.49/2 given their haul of just five points from a possible 30 on the road.
The draw, perhaps by default, certainly has some appeal at 4.03/1.
Watford have won this fixture 1-0 for the last two seasons while they edged out Swansea 2-1 earlier this season after a last-gasp winner from Richarlison.
The 2.5 Goals market is an interesting one here.
Watford scored twice from just one shot on target (Schemichel's own goal accounted for the other) against Leicester while Swansea are struggling horribly for goals.
Then again, this game pits the side with the third worst defensive record in the Premier League (Watford) against the joint-fifth (Swansea).
Over 2.5 has landed in six of Watford's 10 home fixtures.
The market has Unders as 1.664/6 favourite.
Before emerging as 2-1 winners against Leicester, Watford found themselves going behind yet again at home.
It's a familiar story. Silva's side have bagged the opener in just 30% of their 10 home games and only Crystal Palace and Swansea themselves have a worse record.
Surprisingly, Swansea have scored first in 40% of their away games (a very favourable comparison to Arsenal on just 22%) so there's scope here for the men from South Wales to get their noses in front.
Stand-in boss Leon Britton (or whoever is in charge!) will demand a response after the basic errors that cost them at Liverpool and, for a while at least, I can see Swansea being competitive.
Swansea to score the First Goal at 21/10 has some appeal and, in a tricky match to call, I'll make it a bet.
Martin Atkinson heads back to Vicarage Road where he showed a straight red to Davison Sanchez and booked five others (four for the hosts) when Watford played out a 1-1 draw with Spurs at the start of December.
He's shown three reds in his last five fixtures and booked no less than 10 players in Man Utd v Burnley on Boxing Day.
With 32 yellows and four reds, Watford are the second bottom of the Fair Play table. Swansea balance that out by being fourth 'nicest'.
Dave Tindall's P/L, 2017/18