Watford v Wolves: Wolves to show some bite at last

Wolves manager Bruno Lage
Bruno Lage's Wolves side have shown attacking intent without reward
  • Watford vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
  • Sat 11 Sep, 15:00

Andrew Atherley says Bruno Lage's side can get off the mark on Saturday when they travel to Vicarage Road in the Premier League...

"This is the easiest opposition Wolves have faced so far, with their first three opponents all having finished in the top seven last season."

Recommended Bet
Back Wolves to win at 2.47/5

Hornets back on home territory

Watford started life back in the Premier League with an exciting 3-2 home win over Aston Villa but they have come down to earth again with back-to-back away defeats to nil (2-0 at Brighton and 1-0 at Tottenham).

This return to home territory will be welcome but the Hornets are still rated second favourites for relegation at 2.265/4.

New coach Xisco Munoz has no fresh injury doubts but Francisco Sierralta is set to be among those banned from participating this weekend by Fifa having not been released for international duty. In that case Christian Kabasele would return to the centre of defence.

Moussa Sissoko, who went straight into the Watford side against his old club after signing from Tottenham, looks set to be a key midfielder for Xisco, while loan signing Ozan Tufan will be hoping to feature for the first time.

No points or goals for Wolves

Wolves are in the relegation zone as one of three teams without a point from the opening three matches. Along with Arsenal, they haven't managed a goal yet either in 1-0 defeats against Leicester away and at home to Tottenham and Manchester United.

Watford

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Wolverhampton Wanderers

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Saturday 11 September, 15:00

Full stats

That has put new boss Bruno Lage under early pressure as he seeks to instil a more attacking style of play than the stagnating tactics seen towards the end of Nuno Espirito Santo's four-year reign.

Lage are likely to be without striker Raul Jimenez, who is among those set to be banned this weekend having not been released for international duty.

Fabio Silva is most likely to deputise up front, although Hwang Hee-Chan will be available for the first time following his loan arrival from RB Leipzig late in the transfer window.

Another doubt surrounds Romain Saïss, who was caught up in an attempted coup in Guinea's capital while on international duty with Morocco. Leander Dendoncker or Willy Boly could step in.

Breakthrough chance

Watford's opening-day win over Villa took Xisco's home record as boss to W13 D0 L1 and, while the vast majority of those games were in the Championship, they have at least shown the ability to beat a Premier League outfit at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets built a 3-0 lead against Villa, scoring twice in the first half and extending their lead midway through the second period, but in the end they were almost pegged back by the visitors' revival.

Eleven of Xisco's 13 home wins have been to nil, which emphasises the high level of organisation he has instilled, but that is going to be harder to achieve in the Premier League, with Watford yet to keep a clean sheet in their opening three matches.

There is some prospect of a shutout against Wolves, given the visitors' failure to score this season and with Jimenez set to be missing from their attack.

Yet the attacking stats under Lage tell a different story. Despite their goalless start, Wolves rank fourth for xGF (Expected Goals For) with Infogol, who rate them warm in their latest analysis, and only Manchester City, Liverpool and West Ham are ahead of them.

Opta further reveal that Wolves pair Adama Traoré (4) and Trincão (3) have made more drives into the box than any other players in the Premier League this season. This is when the ball is carried into the box following a successful take-on outside the area.

With that level of underlying class and attacking intent, it is no surprise Wolves are favourites here at 2.47/5, although they still need to translate what's on paper to the pitch.

Many will doubt the stats until they see it for real, but this is the easiest opposition Wolves have faced so far, with their first three opponents all having finished in the top seven last season.

It looks worth chancing Wolves at 2.47/5 for the win, with possibly a touch of value in their odds after their slow start.

Despite their struggles last season, Wolves were pretty solid away to bottom-half teams (which Watford are expected to be) with a record of W3 D4 L2 and at shorter odds the draw no bet is worth considering at 1.674/6.

Wolves holding firm

The majority of Xisco's home games as Watford boss have had under 2.5 goals (64%), helped by their high number of clean sheets in the Championship.

It is open to question whether they can replicate that figure in the Premier League, with their opening game against Villa having been emphatically over 2.5 goals.

Wolves ranked joint-third for under 2.5 goals in the Premier League last season (58%) and all three matches this season have been 1-0 defeats.

As already noted, their expected goals indicate the stats might be about to change but on the evidence so far, and with their defensive stats holding up well, unders looks the call with the visitors.

Under 2.5 goals is favourite here at 1.695/7.

Opta Stat

Watford have won each of their last 10 home league games, their longest ever winning run at Vicarage Road. The Hornets have kept eight clean sheets in this run, conceding just three goals. Watford are 5.39/2 to win to nil.

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