Watford play host to Leeds United on what is set up to be a dramatic and nervy final day of the season in the Championship with the Hornets hoping to be celebrating promotion come full-time.
It is six years since Watford last graced the Premier League, but this term Gianfranco Zola has managed to lead his team of loanees to the brink of a top-flight return, with the Hornets needing to better Hull City’s result against Cardiff City to secure the second automatic promotion spot.
Although a win for Hull would condemn Watford to the agony of the play-offs, the Tigers will surely find the champions a tough prospect and Watford have returned to form recently with back-to-back victories after one win in six saw them drop out of the top two.
Promotion is there for the taking for Watford, then, and essential to their chances of securing a win over Leeds at Vicarage Road will be striker Troy Deeney.
The England Under-21 international is the club’s second top scorer with 19 goals and has scored three times in their last two games to help keep Hull within touching distance.
Deeney is enjoying his most productive season under the tutelage of Zola and could well break the elusive 20-goal barrier for the first time in his career this weekend.
If the forward or his equally prolific strike partner, Matej Vydra, can find the net, then Watford will be well set to win the game at 7/20 (they can be backed at 4/5 to seal promotion by any means required).
The visitors, who have nothing to play for but pride, are priced at 29/4 in bwin’s 3-way betting market, with the draw at 18/5.
With all the focus on Watford, it could be easy to forget about Leeds, but if the truth be told, the Yorkshire club might struggle to make an impact on this game judging by their away performances this season.
United have not picked up a win on the road since December 1st and only managed two more prior to that.
The Whites’ record outside the comforts of Elland Road is the second-poorest in the league, with only relegated Bristol City faring worse, and having conceded 39 goals at an average rate of nearly two per game, Leeds will surely struggle to contain Deeney, Vydra and company.
The timing of a Watford goal could also be crucial as an early strike will ease nerves and pile the pressure on Hull – and the signs here are good too.
On average, it has taken the Hornets 38 minutes to strike at home, whereas Leeds have only notched a meagre eight first-half goals on their travels and bwin are offering 12/5 on the home side leading 1-0 at the break and 17/50 to score first.
Indeed, Watford’s first-half record as a whole does not bode well for Leeds as they have only lost once from a winning position at the break in their last 20 matches.
With that in mind, the value on a likely home win arrives in the half-time/full-time market, where Zola’s men are priced up at a tempting 19/20 to convert a lead at the interval into all three points.
This punt would return £39 for new customers successfully backing it with their free £20 bet after registering and it’s where my hard-earned will be going on this contest.
Whether that will be enough to secure Watford a dramatic Premier League return remains to be seen.