Goal-shy Hornets odds-on for the drop
Not known for their patience, the Pozzo family are now on their 13th different manager (not including caretakers) since they bought Watford nine years ago and the first man shown the door, the current Burnley boss, Sean Dyche, is now the longest serving gaffer in the Premier League, suggesting their strategy isn’t really working.
After securing a bounce-back promotion from the Championship, the last man out, Xixco Munoz, was given just six games at the helm in the Premier League, and the only man trading at a shorter price than the new manager, Claudio Ranieri, in the Next Manager To Leave market is his opposite number on Saturday, the under-fire Manchester United boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has been matched at a low of 1.51/2.
Ranieri famously won the Premier League with Leicester but he fared far less well at Fulham three years ago, winning just three of 17 in a spell that lasted just three months. He’s overseen four games at Watford so far and they’ve lost three games to nil.
The Hornets took a hammering at Liverpool in Ranieri’s first game in charge (5-0) and after a bizarre and unexpected 5-2 win away at Everton, they’ve been beaten 1-0 twice – at home to Southampton and away at Arsenal.
Ranieri’s record mirrors their overall campaign record so he doesn’t appear to have made a huge difference.
No team has failed to score in more Premier League matches than Watford this season (7) but bizarrely, in the four games in which the Hornets have managed to find the net, they’ve netted at least three. In addition to their victory at Goodison Park under Ranieri, Watford beat Aston Villa 3-2 at home on the opening weekend and relegation rivals, Norwich, 3-1 away two months ago.
Watford are trading at around 1.51/2 to make an immediate return to the Championship and they’re trading at 5.79/2 to finish dead last in the Premier League. They’re a poor outfit.
Key players missing for stuttering United
Manchester United were matched at just 6.86/1 to win the Premier League after the returning Cristiano Ronaldo had bagged a brace against Newcastle in a 4-1 win back in their fourth game of the season and they were tied at the top of the table with Chelsea and Liverpool after a last-minute winner away at West Ham the following week, but it’s been largely downhill ever since.
Since being beaten at home to a largely out-of-form Aston Villa (0-1) in the Premier League at the end of September, United have failed to beat a sorry Everton side at home (1-1), they’ve been beaten by Leicester away (2-4) (another side struggling at the time) and they’ve been comprehensively beaten by both Liverpool (0-5) and Manchester City (0-2) at home.
They’ve bumbled along against mediocre opposition in the Champions League, with Ronaldo grabbing injury time goals to secure a win and a draw against Villarreal and he bagged in the 81st minute to earn a 3-2 win against Atalanta. They sit atop of their group on goal difference and Ronaldo’s European goals are quite possibly the only reason Ole is still at the wheel.
In-between the humiliating defeats to Liverpool and City, United thumped a sorry Spurs side 3-0 away in a game dubbed El-Sackico. The sarcastic strapline wasn’t an unjust one – the Spurs boss, Nuno Espirito Santo, was relieved of his duties two days after the defeat and if the result had gone the other way, would Ole still be in charge at Old Trafford?
The key to the victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was Ole’s decision to play the grafting Edison Cavani alongside Ronaldo and the return from injury of Varane, arguably their best defensive player, but both are expected to be absent on Saturday.
United’s away form too good to ignore
Given how poor they’ve been of late, taking on United at odds-on in the outright market must be carefully considered and Watford have beaten the Red Devils in two of their last four Premier League encounters at Vicarage Road but their overall record against them is awful.
Watford have lost 12 of their 14 Premier League meetings with the Red Devils and in all competitions that stretches to 15 of their last 17.
Although rudderless and seemingly devoid of any sort of clear tactical vison at present, United have been so much better away from Old Trafford and the Leicester loss is their only defeat in their last 31 Premier League away games.
United at around 1/2 in the outright market doesn’t make any appeal but given they’ve been winning at both half time and full time in seven of their last eight matches against Watford in all competitions, anyone keen to side with them may eek out a bit of value in the Half time/Full Time market where they trade at in excess of 5/4.
There have been at least three goals scored in each of United’s last three away games so it’s no surprise to see Over trading at odds-on in the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market but I’m happy to swerve the market given seldomly the hosts find the net.
It’s impossible to have much faith in United on current form and this is a tricky game to call. It could reasonably be dubbed as El Sackico episode two and in truth it’s being played by two teams I’d want to be opposing.
The draw isn’t really an option given there hasn’t been one between these two since 1986 and that’s a stretch of 21 games in all competitions so I’m going to keep things tight and play 2-0 and 2-1 to United for small stakes. Their away form is just too good to ignore.
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