Middlesbrough vs Watford | Monday 5th April 2021, 12:30 | Sky Sports
Middlesbrough now facing a sizeable task of trying to get themselves in the play-off places in the remaining games. Back-to-back defeats against Millwall and Bournemouth have now made it seem unlikely that they can claw back a gap of seven points to the top six.
When asked about Watford ahead of the match, Boro Manager, Neil Warnock said: “I think them and Norwich are by far the best, the squads they've got. “I'd like to play them with a full squad. We’ll be a bit weakened, but if anyone can beat them it's us. We'll have a go. “What you need against Watford and the likes of those is a full house, a crowd.”
The Teessiders will still be without midfielder Marcus Tavernier and centre back Dael Fry, who missed the Bournemouth match with hamstring and calf injuries respectively. Defender Anfernee Dijsteel has also been ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle issue.
It seems to me that Warnock is starting to shift his attentions towards planning for a real promotion push next term in the Championship, not what you really want to hear as a Boro fan with nine games still to go this season.
At Bournemouth they started without a recognised striker on the pitch, but I think they will change on Monday, but I am not convinced it will change the result. Over the last 19 Championship matches Boro have returned results of W7-D2-L10. The wins have come against the likes of Wycombe, Huddersfield, Coventry, Preston and Stoke, although the win over Reading shouldn’t be overlooked.
You can see where their issues are. Against sides currently above them the record is W3-D6-L5 and in these games they have kept just four clean sheets, two if which were 0-0 away draws and just one clean sheet at home against sides 8th or above.
Watford have been in great form since the change of manager to Xisco Munoz. After the win against Sheffield Wednesday, he said “The first objective is to try to get in the play-offs, the second objective is to try to take second position. And if it is possible, because we are working very hard, we will try to arrive at the top.”
Not the words of someone who is happy with just promotion to the Premier League. He went on to add “But I promise you that we are very ambitious, the team is very ambitious, and everyone wants the best. Everyone is working very hard on the training ground to give their best.” I believe that this is a side that will continue to work hard until the summer.
Since he took charge, they have an impressive record W14-D2-L3 collecting 44 points from 57 available. Yet they have conceded in their last four away games with an average xGA of 1.13.
Away clean sheets have been managed against Millwall (10th in the Championship) Coventry (21st) and Preston (17th) so I wouldn’t ruled out a Boro goal, but the Watford defence is strong. No side has conceded fewer shots on target and they have the 2nd best xGA and no side has conceded fewer away goals.
I can’t see Watford getting beaten here given the comments by Warnock and the Hornets form but the draw no bet market offers very little value, so I am going to turn to Bet365 bet builder. Watford over 0 goals and Watford double chance again is again too skinny, but I am going to add Watford over 0 cards to boost the selection to 5/6.
Watford have collected at least one card in 16 of 19 away league matches this season and two or more cards in 11 of 19 plus they have the 4th highest number of away cards in the league. The Hornets average 1.84 cards per game but under Munoz this increases to 2.22.
The referee is Tim Robinson who at first glance doesn’t look great for cards, but his championship record is decent with 3.3 cards per game and I think he will be happy to oblige with some cards in a game that Watford need to win.
The other bet that I like involves speed merchant Ismaila Sarr who should be up against Marc Bola at full back. Bola has collected seven cards this season and has been booked in his last two games.
I would expect Yannick Bolasie to play ahead of him and no doubt he will offer very little protection for the full back who will have Sarr running at him who draws 2.92 fouls per game. Bola can be found on Bet365 at 11/2 to be shown a card.
It would be amiss of me not to combine the bets that I like and look for something higher in price. I fancy Watford to win this game and given the above I am keen on Watford to score over 1 goal and Watford over 1 card at an attractive price of 9/2 again with Bet365.