Watford in need of league victory
Watford are set to return to action on Tuesday at home to West Ham after a lengthy Covid-enforced break. Claudio Ranieri's side have not been in action since their 2-1 defeat at Brentford on December 10. The Hornets have had matches against Burnley, Crystal Palace and Wolves all postponed due to lack of available players and the struggling team will face a backlog of fixtures in the new year.
Due to the end of isolation periods, there is every expectation Watford will be able to play their final match of the calendar year. The hosts are in real need for a victory after a run of four successive defeats. The loss at Brentford was a major setback as a last-minute penalty snatched victory for the Bees. Fourth bottom Watford have not won since thrashing Manchester United in November and need to summon some of the inspiration produced at Vicarage Road on that memorable day.
Hammers wobble after flying start
West Ham were soaring after a superb start to the season but a recent wobble has slightly checked the progress of David Moyes' team. Progress in the Europa League has been impressive but this may have taken its toll on the injury-hit squad with their results at the end of 2021 failing to match their early-season form. The Hammers have gone five games without a win and have lost their last three matches across all competitions.
The Irons endured a disappointing festive encounter against Southampton after slumping to a 3-2 home defeat on Boxing Day. Michail Antonio was brought off the bench for his return from Covid and the forward made an immediate impact by temporarily equalising for West Ham. But Jan Bednarek's second-half winner handed the Hammers their sixth league defeat of the campaign to leave them seven points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.
Watford are 3.65 outsiders for the contest and this should not be dismissed as a potential bet. The Hornets have shown they are capable of playing to a high level on occasions, such as the 5-2 win at Everton and the trouncing of United. The trouble is Watford come into this game off a lengthy break and were on the receiving end of four successive defeats when last in action. Uncertainty over their match sharpness and individual availability is off-putting for backing the hosts.
West Ham are 2.2 favourites for this game but there have to be concerns about their current form. A run of one win from their last seven league games is poor and suggests their odds are too short for this match. If they can rediscover their level from the first few months of the campaign, this could look a gift but there is no temptation to side with them based on their recent results.
The draw is available at 3.6 but neither of these teams have been involved in many stalemates. Only one of Watford's league outings have finished in a draw this season, while West Ham have been held just four times. There are too many uncertainties for a bet in this market to appeal but going for goals stands out as a route to profit at Vicarage Road.
The Hornets' defensive weaknesses have proved costly throughout this season and suggest a high-scoring contest against West Ham. Watford have failed to keep a clean sheet in their 16 league games this season and have conceded at least two goals in their last four matches. It seems inevitable the hosts will concede against West Ham but there is every chance of them breaching the visitors.
Watford have scored in their last five matches and face a West Ham team that have shipped seven goals in their last three games.
The Hornets' last five contests have all resulted in both teams scoring and over 2.5 goals.
Eleven of West Ham's league matches have had goals at both ends with at least three scored and this looks a strong betting proposition. Betfair's Bet Builder boosts the odds to 2.02 and the leaky defences can contribute to a high-scoring affair.
Another appealing bet is to back Emmanuel Dennis to score at 11/4. The Nigerian forward has been a revelation for Watford in his first season at the club and is likely to be critical to their chances of avoiding relegation. Dennis has scored seven league goals already, including four in his last five games, indicating he is overpriced to add to his tally against West Ham.
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