Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 7/10
Without a Premier League victory since November, Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino will know that his Saint’s side are now firmly at the heart of a relegation battle. With only one Premier League away win to their name all year, Southampton will travel to London to face a Watford side who are also enduring their own poor run of form.
After starting the season brightly under Marco Silva, Watford ended 2017 on a poor run of form. Picking up just one win out of their last nine appearances, Watford will be looking to get back to winning ways after a difficult festive period. Bouncing back to secure a 3-0 win over Championship side Bristol City last weekend, the Hornets were able to make amends for their League Cup exit at the hands of the Championship side. With their strong start to the season giving the London club a five-point buffer from the relegation zone, picking up just four points out of a possible 27, Watford currently sit 10th in the table and will be hoping to secure a top 10 finish come the end of the season. Now facing no side inside the top six of the table till next month, Watford’s Portuguese boss will feel confident about launching a charge up the table. For the Hornets, It’s clear where their problems lie. Although Watford have scored an impressive 31 goals so far this season, averaging nearly two goals per game, Silva’s side have conceded 40 goals at the other end. A tally that is the second worst in the entire Premier League. They have conceded in each of their last nine league matches, scoring themselves in seven of them but with their attackers rarely able to make up for the problems at the back.
The length of Watford’s list of absentees has hardly let up over the festive period. Long-term absentees Isaac Success, Miguel Britos and Younes Kaboul hope to return later this month, as does Will Hughes
Nathaniel Chalobah, Kiko Femenia and Tommie Hoban remain sidelined, while Craig Cathcart is a doubt with a knee injury.
With the Saints freefalling down the Premier League table, Southampton have suddenly found themselves at the heart of a relegation battle. Although Pellegrino’s side may have secured an FA Cup third-round win over Fulham last weekend, the Saints have been drastically struggling in the Premer League. Opening the New Year with a 2-1 home defeat to fellow relegation strugglers Crystal Palace, the Saints were booed off by their home fans and have now gone nine matches without a win in England’s top flight. A winless run stemming back to November, now sat in 17th position, Southampton’s goal difference is the only thing keeping them out of the drop zone. With Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk’s move to Liverpool finalized, Pellegrino’s side will have to act quickly to improve on their recent defensive record. Despite the south coast club managing to come away with a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford last month, the Saints have now only managed to keep two single clean sheets in their last 18 appearances in all competitions. Although Southampton have recently managed to improve their form in the final third, Southampton’s problems have been epitomised by their form away from St. Mary’s, the Saints only have one win away from home in the Premier League this year.
Southampton could welcome back defenders Wesley Hoedt, Cedric Soares and Jeremy Pied for their trip to Watford.
Hoedt (concussion), Soares (hamstring) and Pied (leg) have all returned to training and their fitness will be assessed before kick-off. Although striker Charlie Austin has served his three-match suspension, the 28-year-old remains on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Key Factors to Consider
- Watford’s only home Premier League victory against Southampton came in their very first such meeting against them – winning 3-2 back in December 1999 (D1 L1 since).
- Watford have lost six of their last seven Premier League games, winning the other against Leicester.
- Saints are winless in nine Premier League games (D4 L5); only West Bromwich Albion are on a longer current run in the division (20).
- Marco Silva’s side have won just 48 percent of their Premier League points in home games this season (12/25) – the lowest ration in the division.
- Southampton haven’t lost both league meetings against Watford in a season since the 2007-08 Championship campaign.
With both sides combined only managing to pick up one win out of their last 18 appearances, both Marco Silva and Mauricio Pellegrino will be desperate to start the New Year afresh. Although the Saints may have only managed to pick up a single Premier League away win all season, Southampton have managed to improve their attacking form. Scoring in all but two of their last 10 games, Pellegrino’s side should feel confident about challenging a Watford side who have already shipped 40 top-flight goals this season. While Watford have endured their own defensive issues, the Hornets have been in fine goalscoring form, scoring 31 times in their 22 appearances. We are backing both teams to find the back of the net at Vicarage Road.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 7/10
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