Watford v Tottenham Hotspur: Hornets hard to oppose at bigger odds
Watford are one of the form teams in the Premier League, and Alan Dudman is backing them against stuttering Tottenham in this Saturday's lunchtime kick off...
Watford v Tottenham Hotspur Saturday 12:30 Live on BT Sport
Pearson the magician has turned around Watford's fortunes
Watford boss Nigel Pearson laughed at Match Of The Day's interviewer last Saturday following the suggestion that he was 'a magician', but he's certainly pulled something out of the bag. Pearson masterminded a 0-3 success at Bournemouth - a win that took his points tally to 13 in six matches since the move to Vicarage Road. That collection is bettered only by Liverpool and Manchester City.
Right now, the Hornets are in good company.
Okay, it isn't quite magic, but it's working. The general feeling is that Watford are simply more organised with a game plan. Goalkeeper Ben Foster admitted that the players needed a "rocket", and Pearson has got his team buying into it. Their press was highly efficient against the Cherries - who continued to play out from the back despite fielding a rookie keeper. And they were still pressing and closing with five minutes to go.
The 'three' in the 4-2-3-1 carried out their plans to perfection, and with that came goals. Watford also recorded an xG of 2.05 in that game.
Overall it's top marks to Pearson, who has guided Watford out of the bottom three for the first time this season. They are now out to 4.60 in the Relegation market, having traded as short as [1.26[.
New signing Ignacio Pussetto has arrived from Udinese and may be involved while Christian Kabasele is available again following a ban.
Through in the Cup but league form a worry for Spurs
Tottenham's campaign has never really got going. With the side in eighth, and the injury loss of Harry Kane, it feels a bit like the team are in limbo.
Tuesday's FA Cup replay victory against Middlesbrough was hot on the heels of a pretty good display against Liverpool, though. Good in a defensive sort of way. I agreed with the view that Jose Mourinho made the right call with his set-up for that match. They had just 33% of the ball, but could have nicked a goal, or even a point. It was a plan to stifle the Reds and their brilliant front three, and while some of the defending was last ditch, they faced a world class side that simply keep winning. Almost classic Jose.
Mourinho said they got nothing and deserved something, but it's just one victory in their last five Premier League matches. The last time the north Londoners lost three on the spin was in 2012.
New arrival Gedson Fernandes could be involved this Saturday, while Toby Alderweireld and Dele Alli are likely to return after sitting out Tuesday's match.
Value call with the Hornets as the outsiders
Watford were always going to be the bigger of the two, but it's a strange time to be backing Spurs as favourites - especially away from home. At 2.34, they are a full point shorter than the Hornets at 3.40. And yet one is in flying form, and the other not. You'll have to wait a long time to see Watford trade at around 6/4 against one of the big sides.
Historically Tottenham look a team to oppose too. They have won only one of their last nine visits to Hertfordshire, which doesn't exactly instil any confidence given that the Lilywhites have kept just two clean sheets in the Premier League all season - which is the joint-lowest in the top flight. Away from home that record is even worse - as Spurs haven't managed a shutout at all.
I can see the Watford price coming in for a bit of support.
However, with the 3.40 on offer, we can bring into play the Draw No Bet or the Double Chance market. Watford might not be afforded the same luxuries and gifts as there were on offer at Dean Court, but they look a well-drilled team at the moment. Pearson has moved Doucoure further up the pitch to support Troy Deeney, which has seen an increase in shot conversion. Prior to the new manager, the Hertfordshire side had recorded a shot conversion rate of just 4.8%; which was the lowest in the Premier League.
Since Pearson's arrival, they've clocked 15.5% which is the second-highest. That makes them a very dangerous opponent and certainly one that offers a bit of value as the outsider of the two.
Under 2.5 a juicer price than opposing clean sheet bet
If you like long odds-on pokes at 1.33, you'll probably like the Tottenham Clean Sheet 'No' bet considering their awful record on the road for shutouts. It's not a price for me I'm afraid and I can readily pass on that one - likewise the Both Teams To Score at around the 1.70 mark. That looks a figure that again is heavily influenced by that clean sheet record.
The odds-against 2.12 for Under 2.5 could be worth considering as Spurs are a different team without Harry Kane. Minus the England forward, they have scored just four times in 89 shot attempts. And that's with a win ratio of just one in seven without him. If we use that with Waford's clean sheet record under Pearson - which currently stands at three (against Manchester United, Aston Villa and Bournemouth) - we have a nicely priced bet.
Also Watford have only conceded once in three under the new manager.