Stoke 2.32 v Watford 3.35: The Draw 3.60 Wednesday, 20:00
Time on the training ground could be crucial for Stoke
Stoke got off to a winning start under their new manager Paul Lambert, which saw them climb out of the relegation zone.
Lambert inspired Stoke to a 2-0 win over Huddersfield in the last round of Premier League fixtures and has since had a long period on the training ground with his players, as the club were already knocked out of the FA Cup in what proved to be Mark Hughes' last game in charge.
This period of inactivity on the pitch will have provided some vital time for Lambert to get some fresh ideas across to his squad on the training field, while also allowing for the players to recharge their batteries. It could prove to be a crucial advantage against a Watford side that were in action over the weekend in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Lambert will certainly benefit from the fact that he has an almost fully fit group of players to choose from. Only Glen Johnson and Jese are currently unavailable.
Gracia has inherited huge injury issues
Watford lost their first game under their new manager Javi Gracia and are now out of the FA Cup.
The Hornets were beaten 1-0 by a struggling Southampton side that are currently in the relegation zone, yet only four points shy of Watford in tenth place. Southampton should have really won a poor match by a bigger margin and when they eventually decided to sit back and defend their lead, Watford's wayward finishing rendered them unable to take advantage.
There were ugly scenes at the end of the game when some of Watford's players were involved in an argument with sections of the travelling fans, who had spent most of the dull game amusing themselves signing songs at the expense of their own team. The players might want the fans to get behind them, but you can hardly blame Watford's support for being cheesed off, after a season which started so brightly has somehow ended up with the club replacing their manager once more.
A positive result for Gracia at Stoke would go a long way towards getting those fans back on side, yet doing that will be difficult considering Watford's lengthy injury list. Miguel Britos, Craig Cathcart, Nathaniel Chalobah, Tom Cleverley, Troy Deeney, Femenia, Heurelho Gomes, Tommy Hoban, Will Hughes, Younes Kaboul and Molla Wague were all unavailable for the match at Southampton on Saturday.
Stoke hold all the advantages
Stoke are the 2.32favourites, with Watford at 3.35 and the draw at 3.60.
It's strange to see that Stoke are a bigger price to win this one than they were to claim victory in Lambert's first game in charge, against Huddersfield. They will have boosted their confidence with that victory and now face a Watford side in very poor form, which showed no sign of improving in Gracia's debut.
The biggest advantage that Stoke have is the fact that they are well rested and prepared for this match, while Watford have had little time to recover from their draining defeat to Southampton. With Watford having so many injuries, Gracia has very little option to rotate and refresh his side, making Stoke are great value at this price.
Goals no longer likely to flow
Over 2.5 goals is the favourite at 1.87, with unders at 2.02.
A few weeks ago over 2.5 goals would seem the natural bet, with Stoke's defence looking porous and goals guaranteed at both ends when Watford played. That's less the case now that these sides have changed managers.
Stoke kept a clean sheet against Huddersfield, while Watford looked far from dangerous in their 1-0 loss at Southampton. Under 2.5 goals therefore looks a decent bet, while Stoke are 4.20 to win to nil.