We shouldn’t be surprised by Watford’s start to the Premier League. We shouldn’t be amazed at their defensive strength. They kept 15 clean sheets last season in the Championship, and in 23 home games they conceded just 22 goals. If anything we should have seen this coming. But we didn’t.
Luckily it’s not too late to take advantage.
Watford have conceded just seven goals in their opening eight Premier League games – no team has conceded less. At Vicarage Road they have conceded just once, and kept three clean sheets – the meanest home defence in the top flight. The only goal they have conceded was a penalty against Crystal Palace that Yohan Cabaye gratefully buried. West Brom, Southampton and Swansea have all traveled to Watford this season and left frustrated and scoreless.
At 7:30pm on Saturday you might be able to add Arsenal to that list as well.
Opposition sides have mustered just 11 shots on target at Vicarage Road, while four of these have come from outside the area. Heurelho Gomes has looked confident between the sticks when called upon – memories of his Tottenham clangers in 2011 a distant memory. While a defence that barely knew each other before the season began, now look like a well oiled machine with 6ft 4in Austrian Sebastian Prodl leading the charge from the back. It’s all rosy for a side many were tipping to go straight back down come May.
And Arsenal may not be able to change Watford’s run of form. While the Gunners have had 160 attempts on goal this season (only Manchester City have had more), Arsenal have continuously failed to put their chances away. Just the 11 goals leaves a conversion rate of 6.9 per cent, and only Liverpool (6.7 per cent) and Watford themselves (5.8 per cent) have been more wasteful in front of goal.
The worst offenders are Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla. Combined, they’ve attempted 39 shots this season, 64 per cent of which have failed to trouble the keeper, and neither man is yet to find the onion bag. Watford are to keep a clean sheet on Saturday night, and to win to nil if you’re feeling adventurous.
While this all makes for wonderful reading if you’re a Watford fan, the problem for Quique Flores’s side is going forward. While the Hornets have the meanest defence, they also have the poorest attack, scoring just six goals this campaign – only one of which has come at home. The average goals per game in Watford matches this year is 1.62, which makes the on zero or one goals scored in the match with Arsenal very appealing.
Otherwise, the trends aren’t pointing to a Saturday evening feast of goals, and while Arsenal fans may be frustrated, neutral punters can at least make a few quid on what appears to be a tight contest. The 0-0 draw is a punt, and with all four of Watford’s home games and two of Arsenal’s four away games going in scoreless at the break, that bet could be well worth putting on and then cashing out if things start getting a little more open after the break.
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