Watford v Man Utd Match Preview & Betting Odds
Odds: Watford: 31/10, Man Utd: 91/100, The Draw: 23/10
Formbook page-turners are well aware that attrition is on the menu here as two of the Premier League’s most robust defensive units don’t so much as collide, but take turns shoving one another for 90 minutes in a way that ensures neither cedes any ground.
Watford’s journey into top-tier neutral territory has been founded upon a safety-first philosophy where attacking is carried out in infrequent, but effective bursts in the knowledge that their sharpshooting strikers need fewer chances than your average frontmen to find the net.
While the Hornets have been applauded for executing such a strategy with aplomb, Louis van Gaal and Manchester United, although achieving even better results, have been universally castigated.
Handing out bagels with scant regard for opponents’ carb intakes, the Red Devils boast the Premier League’s best backline and sit just two points off the pace set by neighbours Manchester City.
Yet their pragmatic persuasion simply won’t do for vast swathes of supporters, pundits and ex-players, who would seemingly rather see United attack and get beat than defend and not lose.
This being the case, more frustration awaits this weekend, with the same formula poised to yield a similar outcome in Hertfordshire.
Premier League Betting Odds: Win, Lose or Draw?
Yes, United may not be scoring many, but their clean-sheet keeping prowess is unrivalled.
Since getting hammered 3-0 at Arsenal just over a month ago, the Reds have leaked only one, which was a rebound from a saved penalty against CSKA Moscow.
It equates to six shut outs from seven across all competitions, a streak of stringency that includes five inflicted blanks on the spin heading into this weekend.
However, it’s Wayne Rooney and co paying the price for this splendid stopping form.
United’s last three league matches have yielded a solitary goal from open play, with Man City, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough among those to have found a way to keep United off the scoresheet in recent weeks.
Breaking down a Watford rearguard, which, with 12 goals conceded, is inferior to just four others in the top flight is certain to prove laborious.
They’ve already attempted to dismantle three of the four stronger defences and would’ve failed on each instance had Kyle Walker refrained from putting through his own Tottenham net on the opening day of the season.
Four of the six Vicarage Road visitors this term have left having failed to trouble the scorers, a figure prevented from being five only by a Yohan Cabaye penalty in Palace’s 1-0 win.
Rock solid rearguards aren’t the only thing Watford and United have in common either, having both been beaten 3-0 by Arsenal.
This is the only significant blot on the Hornets’ home ledger and, faced with another title challenger here, expect them to be even more cautious.
Recommended bet: Draw @ 23/10
Meetings between the two in the Premier League era have rarely been wanting for goals, so we have something of a guaranteed trend-bucker on our hands this time.
They’ve faced off on six occasions since 1999, with United winning the lot and scoring at least three goals in five.
Styles of play and form from the current campaign say all of this is about to end, with just one Watford home game crossing the 2.5-goal threshold all season, while this was the case in the each of the Reds’ last six.
Under 2.5 goals is a banker, but setting the bar lower may still prove profitable.
Recommended bet: Under 1.5 goals @ 7/4
Who’s going to score?
Astoundingly, Odion Ighalo, who has scored as many goals as the entire United roster combined across the last three league games, is a longer price than eight opposition players in the goalscorer stakes.
The value is further enhanced by the fact that five of these, for whatever reason, probably won’t start the game.
With seven in 11 so far, he is easily the most in-form player on the pitch and if anyone can break this cast-iron deadlock, it’s him.
Recommended bet: Ighalo to score first @ 13/2
Taking all of the above into consideration, there’s plenty of mileage in backing a goalless draw.
Watford haven’t scored in four of their half-dozen home games, two of which have ended without a net being bulged, while three of United’s last five, including an away trip to Palace, who have conceded the same number of goals as the Hornets, have finished in identical fashion.