West Ham v Watford Tips: Stalemate on the cards for survival strugglers
West Ham take on Watford in a relegation six pointer at The London Stadium on Friday night with both teams having the chance to pretty much secure their place in the Premier League next season with a win. The two sides sit 16th and 17th in the table, both three points ahead of Bournemouth, with Aston Villa in 19th playing Everton Thursday tea time. With both West Ham and Watford having a game in hand on Bournemouth, it’s a real chance to put some clear daylight between themselves and the drop zone.
There’s no denying that it’s been a disappointing season for both clubs, however both have managed to find some form over the last couple of weeks with The Hornets winning their last two games to a scoreline of 2-1, with West Ham having picked up seven points from their last 12 including a home win over Chelsea.
Having a look into the prices in the winner market for this game, Betfred are currently 7/5 for a Hammers win, while a win for Nigel Pearson’s side is available at 5/2. The real talking point here is the price on the draw which is now as short as 15/8 with several firms. After opening at around 9/4 with most bookmakers, the price has seen significant support already.
Watford will be without Isaac Success, Daryl Janmaat and Gerard Deulofeu who are all sidelined through injury, and despite coming off against Newcastle with a knee problem Troy Deeney is expected to be fit and available. There will be late fitness tests for both Felipe Anderson and Robert Snodgrass however it would be no surprise to see David Moyes name an unchanged team with the impressive Michail Antonio continuing up top after netting four against Norwich.
As mentioned above the draw has been very popular in the markets already for this one and when looking at the fixtures at the start of the week I had this one down as a draw straight away. Both teams will be desperate not to lose this game and I think there’s a good possibility that they would both ‘settle for a draw’ if you were to offer it to both managers. I feel we could see a slower tempo in the second half if both teams are level which could bolster the chances of a stalemate.
Looking at the current odds in the relegation betting market and bet365 have The Hammers at 9/1 to go down with Watford at 7/2. This may be due to Watford’s last two games being against Manchester City and Arsenal which puts even more emphasis on how much they need to take something from this game. I’m a little disappointed I’ve not taken an earlier price here but the market reaction has also given support to my hypothesis of the draw being the most likely outcome. There’s 2/1 available with bet365 which I’ve had a dabble on, it’s rare to see a draw available to be backed at shorter than 2/1 in the Premier League but I think this one has all the characteristics for both teams to share the spoils.
Next up I’ve opted for West Ham’s left back Aaron Cresswell to be carded at 9/2 available with BetVictor, William Hill and SkyBet. He’s been booked seven times in the league this season with only Issa Diop having more with eight. At 9/2 this looks quite a generous price as a single and especially when you consider that he will be up against Watford’s Ismaila Sarr.
Sarr has been full of running since arriving at the club and has provided a well-needed injection of pace and trickery. He’s a handful for defenders to deal with and in both of Sarr’s last two games, the left back he has been up against has been yellow carded. That’s Jamal Lewis of Norwich and Javier Manquillo of Newcastle who were booked in those games and with so much on the line here it would be no surprise to see Cresswell foul Sarr to stop a Watford counter late on in the game.
Finally I’ve gone for a humongous longshot priced at 90/1 with PaddyPower for Michail Antonio to score, with both Mark Noble and Abdoulaye Doucoure to be carded.
Antonio has been one of the stand out players since the resumption of the Premier League, with six of his eight league goals coming since June. He’s a man who’s bang in form after scoring four at Norwich last weekend. Having a look into his numbers we can see that over his last five games he has managed 25 shots with 13 of those being on target, with another positive being that Michail has more goal involvements in his career against Watford than against any other club. I can’t see David Moyes leaving him out for this one and think he should be the main threat for the Hammers.
Mark Noble is my selection to be booked for West Ham on Friday evening in this three-pronged punt. Now age 33, Noble has been booked five times this season and I think he will be in for a good battle with Etienne Capoue in this one. With aging legs on his side and so much on the line in this one, I fancy him to be carded tomorrow evening.
I’m rounding this one off with Abdoulaye Doucoure to be carded. The long-legged Frenchman has been booked more times than any other player at Watford this season picking up a somewhat impressive nine. Doucoure often plays as the more forward of the central midfielders and with him having to do more defensive work against a West Ham side who create plenty of chances at home, I’ll be hoping he can make it a perfect ten with another yellow card. Putting those three elements together pays 90/1 which I think has a better chance of landing than the 1.1% probability implies. The game can be seen live on Sky Sports Premier League at 20:00pm, and as always please remember to gamble responsibly.