MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) previews the big Championship clash from Easter Monday with promotion hopefuls Watford and Middlesbrough locking horns at Vicarage Road.
Watford v Middlesbrough | Easter Monday 12.30 | Sky Sports 1
Good Friday’s live Championship offerings didn’t let viewers down and Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off between Watford and Middlesbrough promises to be just as intriguing and entertaining. Just two points separates the two teams going into the game with a win for either side sending them top of the table.
My inkling is to side with Watford. Yes, I know Brentford (twice) are the only top-eight side the Hornets have beaten this season but red cards have cost Slavisa Jokanovic’s men in big games but they performed admirably with 10-men against Derby on Good Friday and celebrated the draw like a win.
So Watford will be full of confidence coming into this clash, not least because they’ve bagged 12/20 (60%) of home wins this season (including six in their last eight), plundering a whopping 44 goals in the process. Swiss midfield mystro Almen Abdi could be back in contention along with Fernando Forestieri as the Hornets look to build on a great run of eight victories in 12 games.
Middlesbrough went back to the top of the second tier with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Wigan last time out but it was hardly inspiring stuff from Aitor Karanka’s men. The three points pleased the Spaniard who admitted his team had been far from their best, registering just three shots-on-target at the Riverside.
Boro were indebted to a brilliant display from veteran Jonathan Woodgate against Wigan and they’ll need to improve if they’ve aspirations of taking points off Watford. Question marks have been raised about Middlesbrough’s away form with the visitors suffering defeats in three of their last four on the road.
Karanka’s charges failed to register an effort on goal when being devoured 3-0 at Bournemouth in their last road trip and although they can boast the best defensive record on their travels, Boro have scored fewer goals away than any of their top-10 rivals. In fact, the visitors have scored two or more goals on the road just once since 6th December and that came at beleaguered Blackpool!
Despite suffering four defeats in six games when hosting their top-eight rivals, I feel inclined to put my faith in Watford. I still need convincing that Middlesbrough are the real deal and their own W3-D3-L6 return at top-15 clubs leaves a lot to be desired. I’ll get the draw onside and back the Hornets off a 0 start on the Asian Handicap line (effectively the same bet as Draw No Bet) with BetVictor offering 5/6.
Watford v Middlesbrough – Watford 0 Asian Handicap (5/6 BetVictor)
Will Middlesbrough hand out more pain to Watford in the Championship promotion race? Are you opposing Mark’s view?
We’d love to hear your thoughts so let us know in the comments box below.