Watford will be looking to continue their recent good form and close the gap to the Championship’s top two against Stoke City on Friday night. Joe Rindl has three best bets to back.
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Stoke are at a turning point in their season. They’ve made no secret of their defensive approach. Before Tuesday’s 3-3 draw with Rotherham, The Potters had scored just seven times in their last 13 games in all competitions.
Their only victories in that stretch being 1-0 wins over Wycombe, Middlesbrough and Blackburn. The question you’ve got to ask yourself is whether their six-goal thriller in Yorkshire is going to kickstart their form or is it simply a blip?
I’m confident in siding with the latter. Only bottom club Wycombe have conceded more goals in the Championship this season than Rotherham. Stoke were fortunate to grab their opener through an own goal, and had just four shots on target. I don’t think we’re witnessing a radical change to their approach.
And they face a Watford side with the league's second-best defence. They’ve conceded three goals in their last six games, a run that’s seen them face the top two in Norwich and Swansea and Premier League title-chasing Manchester United in the FA Cup.
The Hornets to keep a clean sheet is odds-against (13/8, Bet365). But a win and no goals conceded is the way to go, Watford have failed to find the net only once since Xisco Munoz was appointed head coach. I’ll be backing them to win to nil at 13/5 (general).
I don’t think Watford will run away with this fixture though. The last time they scored more than three goals in a game was in their 4-1 win over Preston last November. In the eleven games since, a 1-0 victory for the Hornets has been the most common scoreline.
Unsurprisingly, there isn’t much to be gained in the over/under markets. Under 2.5 goals are at 4/7 (general) with under 1.5 flipped at 7/4. As I can’t see a goalless draw or Stoke edging it 1-0, I’d prefer to put my money on Watford to win 1-0 at 13/2 with Betvictor.
Stoke have conceded 13 goals in their last seven but only three of them have come in the first half. That includes heavy losses to Tottenham and Leicester in cup competitions. Stoke may collapse defensively, but they wait until the second half to do so.
Again, the bookies are wise to this. Both sides to be level at half-time is evens (Sky Bet). But, big gains can be found by backing a draw in the first-half and Watford to win at full-time. That prediction is currently 19/4 with Betvictor.
For me, a dull first period followed by a scrappy Watford winner midway through the second half seems like the most logical scenario.
Score prediction: Stoke 0-1 Watford (Sky Bet odds: 13/2)
Odds correct at 1045 GMT (20/01/21)
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