Watford will surely be approaching Tuesday’s Premier League clash with Manchester City with a degree of trepidation.
Not only do they come into the game with the threat of relegation still hanging over their head but they will also be very aware of their atrocious record against this season’s runners-up.
They lost the reverse fixture 8-0 and while that is the nadir of their recent matches with City, it is not wildly out of sync with other results, one of which was the embarrassing 6-0 defeat suffered in last season’s FA Cup final.
The Hornets have now lost their last 12 meetings with City by an aggregate score of 46-6.
That’s one warning for those thinking Watford’s need for a result can trump the fact that City have nothing to play for.
Another is City’s miserable FA Cup semi-final defeat to Arsenal at the weekend. Pep Guardiola’s mind will now have turned to August’s Champions League conclusion but he’ll want to go into that in good heart and will have demanded a response here.
Watford were also poor at West Ham on Friday, losing 3-1, and with this game plus Arsenal away remaining, they may be left relying on other teams failing to collect points if they are to survive.
There was little to suggest they are ready to beat a side of City’s quality.
It will be vital that heads don’t go down though as goal difference could well play a part in the final relegation outcome. Therefore getting with City on the handicap has its potential drawbacks, even if backing them on the -2 line at 15/8 is tempting given this fixture’s history.
A better way of backing City looks to be via the corner handicap where they are 21/20 giving Watford a start of four.
Their average corner-count score across the season is 7.8 v 2.7, although admittedly that drops slightly when the away filter is introduced.
The most recent ‘scores’ in games between the sides have been 5-4, 13-1, 9-1, 12-3, 9-1 and 11-3 – basically they’ve covered a -7 handicap in five of the last six.
What is also encouraging here is Watford’s deficiencies at full-back at West Ham. The wide areas could therefore be ones City look to target. If they do, it will almost inevitably lead to corners.
Raheem Sterling is one player likely to win a few if he starts, as he often does, on the left of the attack and he could also be worth backing for a goal.
The England international has scored in his last four games against Watford, netting seven goals in total across those matches.
He’s a tasty 11/10 to score at any time with 9/2 for the opener also a possibility.
*All prices correct at the time of writing and subject to change