The market appears to think this game is being played at Old Trafford. Manchester United were the second best home side in the league last season, something I don’t believe they will be able to achieve this season. When Watford visited Old Trafford in March Manchester United were priced at 1.6x, which is the same as they are here. When Manchester United visited Vicarage Road last season they were odds-against and managed to grab an undeserved victory in stoppage time. Manchester United are a side I’m looking oppose this season, especially away from home, as I simply don’t believe they are much, if at all, better than they were last season. However they’re priced up as if they’re ten points better.
Looking at them from a shots point of view a case can be made to show that they’ve improved from last season. Shots per game is up from 11.32 to 16.50, although shots against has increased from 10.82 to 12.00. They’ve also increased the % of those shots that have been on target from 33.26% to 36.36% and the % of shots faced that have been on target, has reduced from 29.93% to 25.00%. So all looks rosy until you being to dig a little deeper, not only have they benefited from some awful defensive/goal-keeping errors they’ve also had a decent set of fixtures in which to rack up some shot stats. Against Hull they were allowed to take 29 shots at goal, which is 43.93% of their total shots taken this season. Against Bournemouth they managed 11 shots for v 9 against and that was a game where two of their goals, in a 3-1 victory, were very fortunate. They were then outshot 13-12 by Southampton, a game where they benefited from poor refereeing decisions. Last weekend they were outshot 18-14 at home to Manchester City, there’s no shame in that, but it’s worth pointing out that Manchester City went into a more defensive mode once they were 2-0 up. This leads me to believe that Manchester United are in a similar position to where they were last season. I don’t see them as a 76 point side, and think 72 points is the upper limit for them, with 68 points the most likely total. That may be good enough for fourth spot, but it’s not a huge improvement to warrant the change in odds we’re seeing in the market.
Watford have been given a tough start to the season, Southampton and West Ham away, with Chelsea and Arsenal at home and now this fixture sees this as the fifth game in a row where they’re facing an odds-on favourite. So far they’ve performed with credit and I believe they’ll be happy with four points from four games. From what I’ve seen of them I feel they’re on course for a similar season to last year, a finish between 13th and 16th gaining 41 to 45 points is a fair refection of their abilities.
The 0 Asian Handicap line/Draw No Bet, is a market I’m playing in a lot this season and I narrowly believe that that is the best way to play this match at 4.35. I wouldn’t put anyone off taking the +1 line at 1.78 if the security of your stakes being returned in the event of a narrow away victory makes you more confident. My goal expectancies have this as Watford 1.11 v 1.30 Man Utd, with the most likely score as 1-1, followed by a 0-1. The market has these two scores as the most likely, but the other way round, even taking that into account I just don’t understand the market love for Manchester United here, the outright market is saying they’re almost a full goal better. If it was 0.50 goals I could understand that, but Manchester United aren’t more likely to win at Watford than Arsenal were at Hull.
BACK WATFORD 0 ASIAN HANDICAP at 4.35 (888 Sport)