WEST HAM welcome Watford to the London Stadium for Friday night's fixture. Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) analyses the encounter.
West Ham vs Watford | Friday 17th July 2020, 20:00 | Sky Sports
Watford make the short trip south to take on West Ham in a Friday night encounter which could have massive ramifications in the battle to avoid relegation.
Both the Hammers and Hammers currently sit on 34 points, hovering three points above the relegation zone knowing that a win here would not only give their opponents a nervous last two games but also all but seal their own survival in the top-flight.
Both these teams should be higher up the Premier League table than they currently are but identity crises, poor defending and injuries to key players have blighted their squads this campaign.
Although a point apiece here would be convenient for both, it’s likely Watford who will need the points from this more given their final two fixtures of Manchester City at home and Europe-chasing Arsenal away.
Odds on the draw have been shortening since results a week ago went very much against Bournemouth and a stalemate can be found at best price 21/10 with SkyBet.
With the Cherries picking up three points against Leicester last weekend however and showing some spirit in their defeat in Manchester, a draw perhaps appeals less now than it did a week ago but I still wouldn’t turn anyone away from backing it at this late stage of the season.
Given the expected nature of the game, I’m happy to back unders for shots. It perhaps goes against the grain for recent matches involving these teams but if the intensity does drop off and there’s less attacking out of the fear of losing, the Under 22.5 Shots with Bet365 has a good chance of landing. I’m going to have a one point play on it.
The other angle I want to explore is Watford passes, specifically Etienne Capoue. The Frenchman has averaged 44 passes this season so the over 45.5 line with Bet365 appeals, priced at 5/6 at the time of writing. The reason I like this line so much is the opposition and the way West Ham have been playing under David Moyes.
Since he arrived just before the new year, West Ham’s possession average has dropped by an average of 10% per game – 48.5% under previous boss Pellegrini to 38.6% in Moyes’ more conservative approach with the ball.
If you take a look at the central midfielders against the Hammers, they are all racking up high passing numbers with the average amongst the 33 that have lined up against Moyes’ men since his appointment standing at a whopping 72.6. Therefore, I’m going to have a two-point stake on the 5/6 price mentioned above but also a single point play on Capoue to reach 50+ passes at 21/20 with Ladbrokes.
The Over 45.5 bet has landed for 32 of those 33 central midfielders so it looks like great value at 5/6. I’d have it closer to a 1/2 shot personally, if not shorter.
The game state could also benefit us here if the match is settling into a low tempo affair, with Watford in particular looking to protect a result with their inferior goal difference and upcoming fixture unless they fall behind.
Bournemouth and Aston Villa fans will be watching this match biting any finger nails they have left, knowing that any victor is likely to pull away from the pack and leave just one team in their sights, with a draw pushing both further towards the Championship trap door.