Manchester United look to go top of the Premier League table when they play Watford at Vicarage Road this Saturday lunchtime, but Jaymes Monte thinks Louis van Gaal’s men can be opposed…
Watford v Man Utd
Saturday 21st November, 12:45
Live on BT Sport 1
An aesthetically pleasing symmetrical record that reads W4 D4 L4 (with half of each of those results coming home and away) sees Watford sitting comfortably in mid-table after 12 games of this Premier League season.
Before the international break there was a 2-1 defeat at Leicester, but prior to that loss there were back-to-back 2-0 wins against Stoke and West Ham. Odion Ighalo continues to lead the line for the Hornets and has now scored seven of Watford’s 11 goals in the Premier League this season.
Team News: Jose Manuel Jurado is a doubt as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury and Joel Ekstrand remains a long-term absentee. Craig Cathcart could line up against his former club.
United arrive at Vicarage Road this weekend on a seven-game unbeaten run that has put them just two points behind leaders Manchester City. During that period, however, there has been a penalty shootout defeat to Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup, a 1-1 draw in Moscow and three goalless draws.
Away from home in the Premier League has also been a mixed bag. Just last month a 3-0 defeat at Arsenal was immediately followed by a 3-0 win at Everton, and overall their form figures away from Old Trafford read as W3 D1 L2.
Paul Scholes’ public criticism of the team’s style of play under Louis van Gaal has been given plenty of coverage, and the former United midfielder’s concerns are backed up by the fact that the Red Devils have scored fewer goals than any other side in the current top 7.
Team News: Anthony Martial was substituted with a foot injury when playing for France in midweek and is therefore doubtful, Michael Carrick will miss out with an ankle injury and both Chris Smalling and Marouane Fellaini will be assessed ahead of the game.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
In a diversion from the norm, I’m going to start the betting section of my preview with a look at the goals market as it gives us the key to where we should be placing our money on a few markets.
For starters, Watford have scored only three goals at home all campaign, and if we exclude the 3-0 loss to Arsenal, then they’ve only conceded one – a Yohan Cabaye penalty – in five top-flight matches at Vicarage Road this season.
United are also struggling in front of goal, and particularly on their travels where they average just one per game this season – with six of their eight away goals coming in two games, and just two being scored in the other six combined.
All things considered, this looks like it will be a low-scoring affair and odds of 1.70 on there being fewer than 2.5 Goals are to be kept on side.
It’s an obvious conclusion for punters to make Manchester United clear favourites for this one, and I can’t argue that they’ve got it wrong as such. However, I do believe that in a game where few, if any, goals are anticipated then we can oppose the visitors at a price of 1.95 with some degree of conviction.
Regardless of the final outcome I think it’s certainly a price that we can expect to increase throughout the first half with Watford keeping things particularly tight early on.
Half Time Score
Which leads me nicely on to my next bet… five of Watford’s six Premier League home games this term have been goalless at half time and they have yet to concede a goal in the opening 45 minutes of any game at Vicarage Road this season.
Odds of 2.80 on something that has happened five out of six times this season looks to be fairly generous, so we’ll take a chunk of that too.