THE live TV cameras are at the iPro Stadium for the crucial Championship promotion clash pitting Derby and Watford together. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his betting thoughts on the Good Friday game.
Derby County v Watford | Good Friday 19.45 | Sky Sports 1
This Good Friday I’ve an invite to a Will Smith themed house party – aren’t I friends with the coolest kids in town? Well I’ll be arriving fashionably late as I’ve a date with Sky Sports 1 and this mouth-watering crunch clash between Derby and Watford.
The Rams have lost their mojo in recent weeks, or so we’re led to believe. There’s no Big Willy swag about Steve McClaren’s men and they’ve certainly not been Getting Jiggy With It. Two wins in 10 and D2-L4 in their past six outings have left the pre-season favourites looking nervously over their shoulder when a title charge looked the most likely.
Watching Derby’s defeat at Wolves, I felt there were certainly encouraging signs. Darren Bent’s return from injury gave the team more forward options, Thomas Ince was a constant menace and they rattled the woodwork a couple of times, dropped a disastrous clanger for one goal and allowed Wolves a goal on the break.
McClaren should be able to call upon Chris Martin for this fixture as well as George Thorne and that duo will certainly bolster the team ahead of the run-in. However, it’s not all good news as Jake Buxton’s been ruled out for the season and it’s that lack of defensive stability, which appears to be costing Derby most.
As for Watford, the Hornets had won six of their previous seven before suffering a knockout blow at home to Ipswich last time out. Slaviska Jokanovic said his side were too focussed on pushing for three points and were caught out by a sucker-punch in stoppage time but in truth Watford were totally outfoxed by the Tractor Boys.
Seeing the Hornets bettered by the division’s elite has been nothing new. Watford have claimed just nine points against top-eight teams this season, returning concerning W2-D3-L7 figures in those 12 fixtures. So although the so-called Golden Boys have bagged 10 wins on the road this campaign, there’s a feeling this team are more flat-track bullies than Freakin’ It, if we’re still using the Will Smith theme.
Jokanovic will more than likely be without midfield wizard Almen Abdi for this tie and defender Joel Ekstrand has been ruled out for the season now too, so changes will need to be made. Sure, the fluent 3-5-2 can be a joy to behold at times and the firepower of Troy Deeney, Matej Vydra and Odion Ighalo is almost unrivalled in the division, but I do fear for Watford on Friday night.
Derby have been nowhere near as bad as recent results would suggest and a return to their mean (winning matches and collecting on average, two points-per-game) shouldn’t be far off. I’m determined to be there when the wind does change and Good Friday could well be that day.
The Rams have won four of their last five against the Hornets and also come out on top in five of their last six head-to-heads at the iPro. With Watford losing six of their last eight trips to top-six sides plus big players returning to the Derby ranks, I’m happy to invest my faith in a Derby win at 6/5 with Paddy Power.
Derby County v Watford – Derby County to win (6/5 Paddy Power)
Mark gave his views on the best bets from the Championship promotion markets for us last week.
We’d love to hear your views on who you think will be going up and whether you reckon Mark might be on the money. Just let us know in the comments box below.