Crystal Palace v Watford | Saturday 7th March 2020, 15:00
Last weekend was exceptional for both of these sides, with Crystal Palace picking up a hard fought victory away to rivals Brighton while Watford produced their performance of the season with arguably the result of this campaign, as they comfortably despatched Liverpool 3-0.
There was an element of fortune to Palace’s victory on the South Coast, with Brighton failing to score despite having 23 shots at goal, with eight of them finding the target. There was no such luck in Watford’s victory, as despite having just 29% of the ball, The Hornets had 14 shots to their illustrious opponents seven.
Ismaila Sarr was excellent in that game and there will be extra onus on him with the news that Gerard Deulofeu is out for the season. Despite this, it is the away side who I am with here.
We are getting to the stage of the season were need has to be factored in to your betting so while Roy Hodgson and the Palace hierarchy will be saying that they are far from safe the reality is that they are nine points clear of the drop zone – with a far superior goal difference to most of those beneath them – with just 10 games to go.
Additionally, the underlying data suggests that 36 points does them somewhat of a service, with Expected Goals (xG) tables showing they have seven or so points more than performances deserve.
The reverse is true of Watford and I take heart from their away performances since Nigel Pearson took charge. They’ve lost to Manchester United, Liverpool and Aston Villa but performed admirably in draws at Sheffield United and Brighton as well as beating Bournemouth.
Crystal Palace have won just five of their 14 home games too and all things considered I like the look of The Hornets at 11/10 in the Draw No Bet market.
Sheffield United v Norwich | Saturday 7th March 2020, 15:00
I did actually consider simply backing Norwich outright in this game, but the 120 minutes in North London against Tottenham will have taken a fair bit out of their players and a trip to Bramall Lane against a relentless Sheffield United is not ideal given the short turnaround.
Additionally, the Norfolk’s side record of just one win and six goals from 14 away league games hardly inspires confidence. However, I don’t think Sheffield United have a great record as favourites this season.
For example, if you look at their record against the current bottom eight in the table, they have won just three of the seven they’ve played. That included a victory against West Ham, where a ridiculous VAR decision prevented the latter from claiming a last gasp point.
While The Blades were dominant in terms of chances in most of those fixtures, I still get the impression that they prefer being underdogs, which is certainly not the case in this encounter.
Furthermore, while Norwich have only scored six goals on the road, they have had 44 shots on target across those matches. Basic analysis suggests that is around half of what they have deserved and they know that they need something from this game.
Given Sheffield United’s defence capabilities I would usually consider the ‘No Goalscorer’ option but I simply don’t trust Norwich defensively and Daniel Farke must realise they need to score if they are to get anything from this game. They did keep a clean sheet against Leicester last week but their goal lead a charmed life and given that Sheffield United have scored in 10 of their 14 home matches – Liverpool and Manchester City were two of the four sides they failed to find the net against – I expect them to oblige here.
Norwich will therefore need to score if they are to get anything and I believe they are capable of doing so. At 21/20 with Paddy Power, BTTS is therefore my main bet, while I also like the look of the 13/2 with Bet365 on the 1-1 scoreline.
This has been the result in seven of the home sides 27 league matches this season, including recent home matches with Brighton and Watford. I expect it to be the home side pressing for the winner late on but think The Canaries can – just about – hold on to a point.
Crystal Palace v Watford – Watford Draw No Bet (11/10 Bet Victor)
Sheffield United v Norwich – Both Teams To Score (21/20 Paddy Power)
Sheffield United v Norwich – Sheffield United 1-1 Norwich (13/2 Bet365)