Watford v Leicester: Take Fox punt on fast-finishing visitors
Leicester should have too much quality for Premier League strugglers Watford on Saturday and Andy Schooler has found a way to back them at close to 5/1.
Watford v Leicester Saturday June 20, 12:30 Live on BT Sport 1
Saturday Premier League football returns with what is a big game for both Watford and Leicester.
After the enforced break of more than three months, Watford head into the contest outside the relegation zone only on goal difference, while Leicester, who are eight points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United, will be keen to steady the ship after six defeats in their last 12 league matches. A top-four finish is far from guaranteed yet.
Fan absence may hurt Hornets
The Hornets are to be applauded for their improvement since Nigel Pearson took the reins in December but prior to lockdown they had lost four of their last six.
During the hiatus, they lost Isaac Success to injury and he joins Gerard Deulofeu on the long-term treatment list.
Main goal threat Troy Deeney returned to training late to COVID-19 fears relating to his vulnerable son and was only a sub in last week's 2-0 friendly win over Brentford. However, he is expected to start here.
Watford will look to draw on a particularly strong home record - since Pearson took over team affairs, they've won four of six at Vicarage Road, Liverpool, Manchester United and Wolves all being beaten. They drew with Spurs (missing a penalty) with the only defeat coming in the last minute v Everton - a game they led 2-0.
However, the absence of fans will surely be a concern. In the German Bundesliga, the home win percentage is running at just 22% since the action went behind closed doors. It was up at 43% pre-lockdown. Other leagues have seen a similar, if less dramatic, change.
Foxes punish the also-rans
Leicester, who have already won seven of 14 away from home, have the quality to punish the loss of that home advantage and look a tempting play in the match result market at 2.14, particularly when you see that they've won 12 of their 15 games against teams currently in the bottom half of the table.
Watford are 3.85 to add another home win to their tally, while the draw is a 3.60 chance.
The Foxes will be without the injured Ricardo Pereira, - James Justin, a summer signing from Luton, looks set to start at right-back - while Dennis Praet is a doubt with a tight calf. However, Youri Tielemans is hardly a bad replacement in the centre of the park, while Ayoze Perez has been declared fit.
Jamie Vardy will lead the line and it's noteworthy that he's scored in his last four games against Watford. The league's top scorer is 2.20 to add another here at any time and 4.60 for the first goal.
The latter is arguably more tempting given Watford have built a pretty solid base under Pearson. They've now kept seven clean sheets at home, a league-leading figure, although they have also failed to score in a league-high 13 (home and away).
The early evidence taken from Wednesday's Premier League matches is that teams will feel their way back into the action.
It was fairly dull in Villa v Sheffield United and while Man City were impressive against Arsenal, even they only really got going towards the end of the first half. And it would have been 0-0 at the break but for a David Luiz howler.
HT-FT where the value lies
Given it would be no surprise to see a fairly low-key opening, there's a bet that looks overpriced and that's Draw-Leicester in the HT-FT market.
Nine of Watford's 14 home games have been level at the interval and Leicester have been one of the best second-half teams this season.
They've scored no fewer than 36 goals after half time - 62% of their total - and only Man City have managed more.
That suggests both strong fitness levels and good use of substitutes by boss Brendan Rodgers and the fact he's now got five of them (not to mention a fine squad) suggests Leicester could capitalise further over the coming weeks.
21% of Leicester's games this season have resulted in them winning after entering the break all square so on bare statistical evidence, Draw-Leicester should be around a 4.7 chance.
In fact they are at 5.90 which seems on the generous side, especially when you also take into the other factors mentioned.
Backing goals not worth the risk
With plenty of unknowns for punters to deal with coming into this round of games, taking a chance on a value price looks a better way to go than backing the side you'd expect to win at a shade over odds-against.
Another bet which would look tempting in 'normal' times is over 2.5 goals, which has landed in 64% of games at Vicarage Road and 57% of Leicester's away games.
But 1.94 about such an occurrence isn't making much appeal given the circumstances so it's the HT-FT bet which looks the way to go.
Since Nigel Pearson's first home match in charge of Watford (22nd December), only Liverpool (18) have won more points in home Premier League games than the Hornets (13 - W4 D1 L1).