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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Next Watford Manager Betting: Puel the early favourite ahead of Hughton

Who will succeed Nigel Pearson as the next permanent Watford manager? Max Liu reports on the betting that has a familiar Frenchman as the early favourite...

Claude Puel is the favourite to become Watford's next manager after Nigel Pearson was sacked by the club on Sunday.
St Etienne boss Claude Puel
The Frenchman, who has previously managed Leicester and Southampton, is 23/10 on Betfair Sportsbook.
Pearson, who was only appointed in December, was the third Watford boss to be sacked this season. He was reportedly dismissed following a significant difference in opinion with club owner Gino Pozzo about the Hornets' Friday defeat to West Ham.
That result left them 16th in the Premier League, with two matches to play - the first against Man City tomorrow - and 3.35 on the Exchange for relegation.
Puel the unpopular
Puel is currently in charge of St Etienne who had a mixed season in Ligue One and will be play PSG in Friday's French cup final.
His Premier League experience, combined with his continental sensibility, could make him an appealing appointment for Pozzo. The Frenchman was, however, unpopular at both Southampton and Leicester with fans and players accusing him of negative tactics and dour football. He's the type of appointment which fans greet with a groan.
Chris Hughton comes next in the betting at 4/1. He was unlucky to be dismissed by Brighton last summer after establishing them as a Premier League force. If Watford do go down then his experience of winning promotion with the Seagulls could be an asset.
After that it's Sam Allardyce 5/1. The ex-England boss would be an unusual fit for Pozzo who has tended to favour European coaches and an attractive band of football.
In fact, with the debatable exception of Pearson, Pozzo has steered clear of the kind of usual suspects who typically clog up next manager betting markets.
For example, did anyone in England know much about Javi Gracia when he came to Vicarage Road in 2018/19 and steered the club to the FA Cup semi-final and a best ever 11th-place in the Premier League?
With Pozzo we should expect the unexpected. But one thing is certain - after a season of turmoil, Watford need to get their next appointment right regardless of which division they're playing in next term.

Watford v Manchester City: Wounded City to crush Hornets

Manchester City were left licking their wounds after a shock FA Cup exit to Arsenal but Kevin Hatchard believes they'll take out their frustration on manager-less Watford on Tuesday...

Watford v Manchester City
Tuesday 21 July, 18:00
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Pearson flung upon Watford's coaching rubbish heap

Watford recently displayed an excellent banner which strongly featured club legend Graham Taylor, a man who took the Hornets from the fourth tier of English football to the first in the space of five years, a manager who spent ten years in the hot-seat in his first spell and five in his second. Had Taylor been a manager under the current regime, one wonders if he'd have been allowed such latitude. I strongly suspect the answer to that question would have been a resounding "no".
The Pozzo family swung their razor-sharp axe again on Sunday, as they dismissed manager Nigel Pearson with just two rounds of Premier League fixtures remaining. Yes, the Hornets aren't safe, and they were abject in Friday's critical 3-1 defeat at West Ham, a result that has saved the Hammers from the drop. However, a club that didn't even bother to directly call Javi Gracia when they sacked him, even though he got them to last season's FA Cup final, has to be viewed through a grubby lens when it comes to how they deal with their coaches.
Watford have used four different managers this season, and since the Pozzo family's takeover in 2012, not a single manager has made it to two years in charge. Hayden Mullins and Graham Stack will take the reins for the final two matches.
On the pitch, Watford have won two of the last three top-flight games, and at Vicarage Road they have won six of their last ten PL outings. That sequence includes a 3-0 win over champions Liverpool, the result that shattered the Reds' hopes of finishing the league season unbeaten. Watford still have a three-point lead over Aston Villa and Bournemouth in the race for survival, and Bournemouth have played a game more.
It remains to be seen whether Mullins will make significant changes. The influential Gerard Deulofeu is still sidelined, while midfield enforcer Etienne Capoue is also injured.

Cup defeat another jolt for flawed City

When Manchester City hit top gear, there are few teams who can live with them, and few outfits that paint as captivating an attacking picture. However, the problems that have brought about nine Premier League defeats and a shock semi-final loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup cannot be dismissed as fleeting issues, mere glitches in the footballing matrix.
City failed to replace former defensive leader Vincent Kompany, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi are clearly no longer trusted, and teenage defender Eric Garcia was literally given the run-around at Wembley by Arsenal's two-goal hero Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. City have conceded at an average of almost a goal per game in the Premier League, and they have lost four of their last six competitive matches away from the Etihad Stadium.
Manager Pep Guardiola is rightly lauded as one of the great coaches of recent times, but he must now find a solution if he is to claim the ultimate prize that is the Champions League trophy. City are 4.80 to win the tournament, but if their defensive issues persist, it's far from certain that they will be able to maximise the potential of a 2-1 first-leg lead against Real Madrid in the last 16.
Fernandinho will likely return to the side alongside Aymeric Laporte at centre-back, while Rodri could be asked to provide solidity in midfield. Sergio Aguero is still out injured.

Wounded City to deepen Watford's worries

Manchester City obliterated Watford in an 8-0 win at the Etihad Stadium in September, scoring five goals in the first 18 minutes. They beat the same opponents 6-0 in last season's FA Cup final, and last term they beat them 3-1 and 2-1 in the league. In all competitions, City have won their last 12 meetings with the Hornets.
Given that Watford have been making slow starts and have trailed at half time in four of their last five games, there's certainly a case to be made for backing City/City in the HT/FT market at 1.95. In their last seven competitive wins, City have led at half time.
However, I'll back City -1.5 on the Asian Handicap here at 1.96. If you look at City's 24 league wins this term, 18 of them have been by two goals or more.

Don't expect defences to excel

Watford haven't kept a clean sheet in the league since late February, and a change of coach is unlikely to see them get one against a team that has put 14 goals past them in the last two meetings. City have whacked in 25 goals in their last eight top-flight appearances, and given their own defensive issues, there's certainly scope to back Over 3.5 Goals here at 2.28.

Sterling surge could yield a profit

After a mid-season drought, Raheem Sterling has rediscovered his scoring touch, netting seven goals in his last nine appearances. He scored twice against the Hornets at Wembley last season, and is trading at 2.10 to score here.
Gabriel Jesus has scored in three of his last four games, and is 1.86 to score in 90 minutes.

Aston Villa v Arsenal: Gunners to blow hole in Villans' survival hopes

Andrew Atherley says Arsenal can expose the poor defence of the relegation-threatened hosts...

Aston Villa v Arsenal
Tuesday 21 July, 20:15
Live on Sky Sports

Three points needed

Villa were handed a lifeline by West Ham's decisive 3-1 win over Watford on Friday night, which means they could escape the drop with one win from their last two matches.
Dean Smith's side need to find a win from somewhere because anything less than three points out of six will put them down and they will know more about the task facing them after the result of Watford v Manchester City, which immediately precedes this match.
Matt Targett is likely to continue at left-back in place of Neil Taylor, who has a hamstring injury, and it would be no surprise to see Keinan Davis given the striker role instead of Mbwana Samatta.

Route to Europe

Arsenal are coming off their tremendous 2-0 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday night and that competition appears to offer their best route to Europe next season, although there is still the possibility of a Europa League place via their Premier League finishing position.
Mikel Arteta has plenty of options to freshen up his team, with exciting forward Bukayo Saka, midfielder Lucas Torreira and defender Rob Holding all on the bench against City having started last Wednesday's 2-1 home league win over champions Liverpool.

Defensive weaknesses

Villa have won only once at home since the restart, 2-0 against Crystal Palace, and a low rate of return at Villa Park is a chief reason for their league position.
Their only other home wins since the start of December were against fellow strugglers Norwich (1-0) and Watford (2-1) and their home record against top-half teams is W0 D2 L7, which does not inspire much confidence.
Villa's defensive weaknesses have been exposed in most matches against the better teams and their home record when conceding is W2 D1 L9, with the points coming against Burnley, Brighton and Watford, who are all among the lower-scoring away sides (averaging no better than a goal per away game).
Everton are the lowest-placed team Arsenal have failed to score against on the road but they have defensive frailties of their own and their away record of W3 D6 L3 when scoring is not that good.
Arteta hasn't really improved Arsenal's away form yet with a record of W2 D4 L3 in the Premier League, although the wins have come since the restart (plus they won at Sheffield United in the FA Cup quarter-final) and their only blanks on the road have been on testing trips to Burnley and Manchester City.
Arsenal may be a little short at [2.15] but the away win is the most likely result on form, especially on the back of the past week's wins over the best two teams in England.
Arsenal to win and both teams to score is worth considering with these shaky defences, but the selection for juicier odds is Arsenal off -1 on the Asian handicap at 3.10, which is a successful bet if they win by two or more goals, and no bet if they win by a single goal.

High goals figures

Both teams lean towards over 2.5 goals overall (Aston Villa 61% and Arsenal 56%).
Villa's figures are the same home and away, but Arsenal edge towards under 2.5 goals on the road (56%).
With the home side needing to keep attacking unless they have a lead to protect, it is no surprise that over 2.5 goals is clear favourite at 1.72.

Opta Stat

Arsenal have won their last seven meetings with Aston Villa in all competitions by an aggregate score of 23-3. The Gunners are 25.00 for a 3-0 win.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Wolves v Crystal Palace: Slow burner likely at Molineux

Neither Wolves or Crystal Palace score many early goals so Andy Schooler is expecting a slow start when the pair meet in the Premier League on Monday...

Wolves v Crystal Palace
Monday July 20, 20:15
Live on BT Sport 1
Monday night throws up a classic case of a team with something to play for against one with very little at stake.
It's no surprise to see Wolves v Palace priced up accordingly.

Wolves eyeing Europa return

The hosts, who know two wins in their last two games will book a return to the Europa League next season, are just 1.52 for the win.
Palace will finish somewhere between 11th and 16th and can be backed at 8.80. The draw is at 4.20.
It would be difficult not to make Wolves odds-on favourites here, although it could be argued they are a tad too short.
They've won four and drawn one of seven since the season resumed with boss Nuno Espirito Santo managing to rotate his players without losing too much in terms of performance levels.
Jonny and Matt Doherty were both left out against Burnley - a match Wolves drew after conceding a controversial injury-time equaliser - and they may well return here.

Defensive woes for Palace

Palace's form has been much worse. They've lost their last six, five of them without scoring. They've also conceded 15 goals in that miserable run.
Defensive injuries certainly haven't helped with Gary Cahill still out here and James Tomkins unlikely to be fit enough despite a recent return to training.
The Eagles have also now lost reliable left-back Patrick van Aanholt after he dislocated his shoulder against Manchester United, while up front Christian Benteke is suspended.
Palace did at least show some signs of life in that game with United when decisions went against them. They also produced plenty of positives during a 3-2 defeat to Chelsea earlier this month.
If displays in those two games can be replicated at Molineux, Wolves will at least be tested.

Goals at a premium

It seems unlikely to be a game packed with goals. Over 2.5 goals is at 2.36 for a reason - just 39% of Wolves' games have featured three or more goals and only 31% of Palace's. Under 2.5 is at 1.67.
The first-half goal stats are even grimmer and potentially hold the key to profit.
Wolves have scored just 27% of their goals in the first half of games. Palace's equivalent figure is 33% and so 2.66 about the game reaching half-time goalless is certainly worthy of consideration.
That has been the score at the break in eight of Palace's 18 away matches this season. The reverse fixture (a 1-1 draw in September) was also 0-0 at the interval.

Take slow road to profit

However, the better bet looks to be 13/10 about the first goal of the game coming after the 31st minute.
Between them, the teams have scored just 13 goals in the first 31 minutes of games this season.
The bet has landed in 24 of Palace's 36 games and while the figures aren't so convincing for Wolves, all seven of their post-lockdown matches have been goalless after 31 minutes.
There also looks to be potential in the 'to be booked' market given the referee and players on show.

Dribbling duo to produce cards

In the top flight, only Mike Dean averages more yellow cards per game than the man in charge of this one, Peter Bankes, while wingers Adama Traore and Wilfried Zaha (pictured below) are two of the most fouled players in the league, largely due to their dribbling ability - they are first and third in the dribbles-per-game stats.

Both have regularly drawn fouls which have resulted in cautions for their opponents.
Traore is likely to cause plenty of problems down the right where Palace will have a stand-in left-back on show with van Aanholt injured.
That's likely to be Jairo Reidewald, who hasn't started a game at full-back since January. He has started once since lockdown but that was in midfield.
Facing the speed of Traore will be a very testing return and 7/2 about Reidewald collecting a card looks worth a try.
You may want to wait for the team news with Jeffrey Schlupp, who has played only 18 minutes in 2020, and youngster Tyrick Mitchell other candidates to fill in on the left of the defence. They are 5/1 and 3/1 respectively in the market.
As for Zaha, he's played down the right in recent games which means he'll likely be up against wing-back Jonny and Conor Coady, the man who has played on the left of a back three.
The latter at 9/2 looks most tempting, given Zaha likes to roam into central positions too.
Coady has been carded in five games this season, including the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park in September which ended 1-1.

Opta fact

Wolves have scored 73.5% of their Premier League goals this season in the second half - the only teams to have scored a higher such percentage in a season are Portsmouth and Stoke in 2008/09 (both 73.7%) and Reading in 2007/08 (75.6%).

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