Bamford and Deeney do battle as Boro travel to Watford
Six of the last eight encounters between Watford and Middlesbrough have been decided by a single goal margin, so the Championship promotion race shows no sign of becoming any less compelling.
League leaders Boro, 19/10 chances with Coral for an away win, come down to Hertfordshire’s Hornets (11/8 favourites), and a capacity crowd at Vicarage Road will bear witness to two of the best English sharpshooters outside the Premier League.
In home ranks, Slavisa Jokanovic can call on 19-goal top scorer and skipper Troy Deeney, who has made a real nuisance of himself against Middlesbrough in the past. Five in the last six head-to-heads from the 26-year-old make anytime odds of 6/4 good value.
Punters may also want to consider Deeney drawing first blood or last with both eventualities better at 11/2. Watford are far from one trick ponies in attack, however.
Add Deeney’s goals to those of Odion Ighalo (18) and Matej Vydra (30), who both netted last time out at Derby County, and the Hornets hot frontline have a phenomenal 50 between them. These account for 62.5 per cent of the club’s sensational seasonal league total of 80. Only Bournemouth have netted more times in the second-tier with six games to go.
Czech Republic attacker Vydra represents the best anytime value of Watford’s forward trio at 7/4, having once bagged a brace against Boro.
The Hornets haven’t got the best record against sides in and around them, though, which gives Aitor Karanka cause for optimism, and he should be targeting at least a draw at 23/10. Another is loan star Patrick Bamford, who has four of his 15 Championship goals in as many matches coming into this one.
England Under-21 forward Bamford has scored against Premier League opposition, namely Liverpool and Manchester City, in domestic cups this term as well, so a Watford defence that is the second worst of the eight sides in the promotion picture holds no fear for him.
Superb odds of 7/4 say Bamford shall sting the Hornets by firing home anytime. Karanka’s club have the best defensive record in the division, conceding just 30 goals in 40 outings, and that gives Middlesbrough a magnificent foundation for their run-in.
Backing up Bamford (a 6/1 shot to score first) are the likes of Kike and Jelle Vossen (both 2/1 anytime chances), plus proficient dead-ball taker Grant Leadbitter (7/2). There’s so little to choose between these two sides, so a score draw of 1-1 is well worth taking a punt on at 11/2.