Watford vs Middlesbrough Betting Preview & Tips


CHAMPIONSHIP specialist James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) shares his thoughts on Friday night's second-tier curtain-raiser between Watford and Middlesbrough.

Watford v Middlesbrough | Friday 11th September 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports

We haven’t really had to wait too long to get our fix of EFL football considering last season only finished just over a month ago, but it will still be great to get the Championship back on our screens, and only on our screens as fans remain unable to attend in stadiums for as long as necessary.

That being said, one team that has had a long wait for EFL football is Watford having spent the last five seasons in the Premier League. However, 2019/20 proved to ultimately be a forgetful campaign for the club, with four different managers taking charge at one point or another, which resulted in relegation.

The Pozzo’s have hired Vladimir Ivić to the gig this time around, with the former PAOK and Maccabi Tel Aviv boss inheriting a squad of which may still remain set on leaving for pastures new.

Whilst the Hornets have something of an unknown gaffer in their ranks, Neil Warnock has very much ‘got the t-shirt’ in the managerial game, and having initially joined Boro in June to save their season, he has been persuaded to remain at the Riverside Stadium for the upcoming campaign.

That being said, I wouldn't have thought he’d need much persuading! The 71-year-old just gets this league, and Middlesbrough are in safe hands considering Warnock has several promotions out of this division on his CV.

It is normally the case that a squad gets broken apart following relegation, but Watford still officially have practically all of their squad from last season on the books.

Gerard Deulofeu, Troy Deeney, Danny Welbeck, Abdoulaye Doucouré, Ismaïla Sarr, Étienne Capoue and Roberto Pereyra are just some of the names who are still at Vicarage Road, but have not featured in pre-season and continue to heavily be linked with moves away.

Deeney however is one who says he won’t be forcing a move with a transfer request, insisting his future is in the hands of the club. It would be a shock if any of these players are involved, so although Ivić has a large squad, only a select proportion of those are really under consideration right now.

One advantage Middlesbrough have is they already have a competitive game under their belts this season. They were involved in an epic 4-3 home win over Shrewsbury Town in the Carabao Cup last Friday, whilst Watford only enter the competition in Round Two.

Nevertheless, Warnock is still hoping to add a few more numbers to boost his squad before the window closes. The depth of his squad looks extremely limited based on the bench he named for that cup tie, with the likes of 19-year-old Sam Folarin involved, although he is tipped to potentially make a bit of a breakthrough this season.

Still, more is needed across the board, and some experience wouldn’t go amiss considering they lost the likes of George Friend, Adam Clayton and Ryan Shotton, but they have added Grant Hall from one of Warnock’s many former clubs, QPR.

One issue from a betting perspective ahead of this game regarding Watford is that very little information has been released about their pre-season. We have their results, but only do we know their actual starting line-up from the Tottenham game, and that was played during the time where many players were away on international duty. Therefore, it presents a challenge to determine how exactly they’ll line up.

New signing Jeremy Ngakia should start, but fellow new recruit Glenn Murray may begin on the bench. Francisco Sierralta is also the latest Udinese man through the door and could be involved as well.

Ivić could well favour a 3-5-1-1 formation having adopted this in the Spurs game, and whilst several big names won’t be called upon, they still have a talented squad that is capable of competing at this level, with the club of a few more future recruits, of course.

I don’t think the bookies have quite changed their markets accordingly considering the situation revolving several Watford players. Deeney is favourite to score first for example, but having played no friendly games, is he really going to start, or even be involved? Well, I can confirm that he will play no part in this game because of injury, and he may well still leave the club in the coming days.

The Hornets do have something of an injury crisis as they are also missing Daryl Janmaat, Isaac Success, Deulofeu, Andre Gray, Will Hughes and Adam Masina. Their starting XI is anyone’s guess really.

Watford v Middlesbrough – Ashley Fletcher Anytime Scorer (18/5 888)

I’m still keen to find a goalscorer bet however and maybe focusing on the away side is the safer way to go. Boro’s biggest attacking threat in my eyes is Ashley Fletcher. Give him a run in the side and sufficient service and he’ll bang 15 goals in this team. 18/5 (888Sport) on him being Anytime Goalscorer is too good to resist in my eyes.

He is likely to get the full 90 as there is really only him and Britt Assombalonga who’ll play up front. Plus, he fired in a brace against Shrewsbury last weekend, so he already has his eye in. Watford are bedding in several new players so I expect them to give up some chances.

Both Teams To Score (21/20 Sport Nation)

A final play is a simple Both Teams To Score punt at 21/20 (Sport Nation). The behind closed doors factor around this game I feel will lead to Middlesbrough playing a bit more of an ambitious game than if it wasn’t.

An away point would remain a good result for Boro here, but last weekend’s 4-3 win over Shrewsbury maybe indicates a bolder style of play, certainly in the short-term until a few more new faces can some in and bolster them in certain areas to play a more Warnock style.

Watford are still adjusting to a new manager and a new system, as well as having a team together which won’t have played much football together before. I’ll take a chance on goals.

Best Bets

Watford v Middlesbrough – Both Teams To Score (21/20 Sport Nation)

Watford v Middlesbrough – Ashley Fletcher Anytime Scorer (18/5 888)

About Author

Since leaving university I've worked as a Research/Football Performance/Betting Analyst. I live and breath all things football. This has gradually helped me with my betting when looking for value and ultimately, winning selections. I've experienced both the bad, and more recently, the good supporting Lincoln City, with whom my weekends aren't the same without.

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