There is plenty of high-profile football to be played out in the Premier League on Boxing Day, but Watford and Norwich fly the flag for the Sky Bet Championship. It promises to be a Christmas cracker.
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Football betting tips: Watford v Norwich
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Watford v Norwich
- 19:45 GMT kick-off on Sky Sports Main Event
- Match odds: Home 8/5 Draw 11/5 Away 7/4
Xisco Munoz takes charge of Watford for the first time having become their fifth permanent head coach in just 16 months, and while usually there would be clichés written about “new manager bounce”, does that even apply to a club that chops and changes as much as Watford?
Vladimir Ivic was sacked after a 2-0 defeat at Huddersfield, a harsh reaction to a game that played out very differently to how the scoreline suggests.
An error from Ben Foster, compounded by an own goal from Etienne Capoue, capped off a dismal day for the Hornets. But even after going two goals down, they missed chance after chance to get back into the game - James Garner and Andre Gray the chief culprits.
Perhaps they would have converted at least one of those opportunities had Troy Deeney been on the pitch, but with Ivic gone, he could well return.
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Munoz has reportedly been brought in for his “attacking philosophy”, which is interesting given, for all that Watford have managed just 23 goals in their 20 matches so far, they have been pretty adept at creating chances, particularly at home.
In fact, the Hornets have fashioned more opportunities on their own patch than anyone else in the Sky Bet Championship this season, generating 1.76xGF (Expected Goals For) per game. And if you don’t go in for xG, then they are also the second-highest scorers at home, with only Bournemouth boasting a better return.
No team have gained more points from home fixtures either, and with their defensive stability a key element to the way they play, it is likely that Norwich will find this a frustrating match from an attacking point of view.
The Canaries are guaranteed to lead the pack heading into 2021, they're currently five points clear, so this is potentially a bigger game for Watford than it is for Daniel Farke’s men.
Undoubtedly Norwich will be desperate to win, but this really could be a season-defining moment for Munoz and his team – win and the title challenge is still on, lose and the season rapidly becomes a scrap for the play-offs.
Norwich currently look the best team in the division, top of the table, creating plenty of chances, and arriving on the back of a five-match winning streak. It would be easy to throw them into an acca based on this, but they do have vulnerabilities, particularly at the back, and there could be value in opposing them here.
Norwich are an excellent attacking team, and that has been a huge part of their success this season. But their defensive process is that of a mid-table side, allowing 1.23xGA per game – only the 14th-best record in the division. That number increases when on the road as well, with Farke’s men allowing chances equating to 1.37xGA away from home.
Given all this then, it seems odds that Watford are as big as 17/10 to come away with all three points.
That looks a big price, and if you dig through the previous betting trends surrounding Watford and Norwich, the numbers back that up. Watford’s average price at home this season has been a shade above evens, while Norwich’s average away price has been around the 6/4 mark.
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Now, this is obviously not an efficient way to price up a football match, but it does provide an interesting insight into the betting trends of both teams.
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There should be a bigger disparity in the prices between these two, with Watford deserving to be a fair bit shorter than they are, and for this reason we are happy to side with the Hornets to claim the spoils on Boxing Day.
Score prediction: Watford 2-1 Norwich (Sky Bet odds: 17/2)
Best bet:Watford to win at 17/10
- Despite having the edge over Norwich in their last four league games (W3 L1 – all in the Premier League), Watford have suffered three defeats in the last five against them outside of the top-flight (W1 D1).
- Watford completed the Premier League double over Norwich last season, and have also won their last two league games at Vicarage Road against the Canaries.
- Watford’s only Boxing Day victory in their last six such outings came at home to Leicester in 2017 (D3 L2).
- Norwich have only won four of their last 17 away Boxing Day matches, losing the other 13. Indeed, their only clean sheet in this run came in 2017 in a 2-0 win at Birmingham.
- Emiliano Buendía has been directly involved in nine goals in his last nine league matches for Norwich (5 goals, 4 assists), creating more chances than any other player in the Championship in 2020/21 (51).
Odds correct at 1200 GMT (22/12/20)
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