Coming back from the international break Watford will hope that the visitor’s international stars are suffering from some fatigue or alternatively that a trip to Vicarage Road doesn’t quite inspire as much focus as playing against the likes of Spain, France or Germany. However, United’s stars weren’t overworked during the break and were largely spared from too much travelling so they should be relatively fresh and their best performance of the season came after the last break, when they went to Everton and won 3-0.
A similar performance here would be a surprise though given their form since that result; a series of tame nil-nil draws before a couple of lacklustre wins over CSKA and West Brom have raised several question marks over Louis van Gaal’s philosophy. Nevertheless they are very much in the title fight and have five highly winnable games before Christmas. They’ve won nine of their last 20 away games and while they slipped up in dramatic fashion at Leicester last season they’ve won by more than one goal in seven of their last nine games against promoted teams.
Watford have been the best of the promoted sides but most their joy has come against teams below them – compiling a W3-D2-L0 record in those matches – while they’ve otherwise looked relatively toothless. Removing those games their record drops to just W1-D2-L4 while scoring only five goals and, furthermore, they’ve failed to score in four of their six home games this season. However, Watford are one of only two teams not to have trailed at half-time this season and while they’ve lost at all three of the teams directly above United they were level at the break each time.
In the previous five seasons promoted teams lost 53% of home games against top-six finishers which make the current odds spot on but we can certainly add some value by taking into account Watford’s tendency to weaken in the second half while United have won five of their last eight second-halves (drawing the other three). Van Gaal has stated his patient approach is about tiring the opposition out and a Draw/United half-time/full-time bet looks attractive at decent odds.
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