Watford v West Ham | Saturday 24th August 2019, 15:00
For the second week in a row I am opposing Watford. The Hornets are a best price of 5/4 to beat West Ham and at first glance it is easy to see why. Vicarage Road is generally a tough place to go, as is evidenced from Watford scoring at home to four of the Big Six last term, beating Tottenham and having a W7-D3-L3 record against sides from seventh down.
However, the odds suggests that Watford are the equals of this West Ham side and given that we are only two games in – with neither side particularly impressive in either of their matches – I am not sure what has changed since the start of the season.
West Ham were overwhelmed by Manchester City on the opening weekend of the season and weren’t great against Brighton last Saturday. However, The Hammers were facing a side that may well be better than the market (and myself) expected and were also without key attacking options Felipe Anderson and Sebastien Haller.
Watford are yet to score this term and while they have created a sufficient number of chances to find the net, they are missing their talismanic striker Troy Deeney. Truthfully, I don’t particularly rate him but I can his value to the Hertfordshire club and do think he will be a miss for them this term.
West Ham’s record against their peers – those outside of the Big Six – last season reads W5-D5-L3 so I think overall there is enough to suggest that the 38/25 Marathon are offering in the Draw No Bet market is value.
Manchester United v Crystal Palace | Saturday 24th August 2019, 15:00
It's been a reasonable start to the season for Manchester United, with four points from games against Chelsea and Wolves certainly acceptable for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men. The Red Devils certainly weren’t deserving of a 4-0 scoreline at home to Chelsea, but they did earn a vital clean sheet, something they only managed on two occasions at home last season – against Liverpool and this weekend’s opponents Crystal Palace.
Despite the additions of Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, that record is hugely concerning for me which puts me off backing either United to win ‘to nil' or a United victory and Under 3.5 Goals.
Instead, I will trust a bet that I wouldn’t have envisaged myself placing at the start of the season – Marcus Rashford to score anytime at 13/10 with 888. The striker recorded a double-digit goalscoring return in the league for the first time last season but there is no denying that he needs to add more to his game. Still, he did score twice in their victory over Chelsea and may well have also found the net had Paul Pogba not decided to take the penalty against Wolves.
Rashford is surely likely to take any penalty that comes United’s way this weekend and with VAR in force I am happy to take this bet. I also think that Crystal Palace’s attacking concerns have overshadowed the fact that they are hardly watertight at the back.
Palace may have only conceded one goal this term but they’ve only faced newly promoted Sheffield United and an Everton side who are really struggling to turn chances into goals. They are also missing their first-choice centre backs Mo Sakho and James Tomkins, and Joel Ward is hardly an adequate replacement for the aforementioned Wan-Bissaka.
Palace’s had the sixth best away record last season and may well cause United a problem or two at the back. However, they still conceded 30 goals on their travels in 2018/19 and I am confident that in a few weeks backing Rashford at 13/10 to score against a Premier League struggler will look like excellent value.