Watford can consolidate top six spot by heaping more woe on Wolves
Although Watford have lost two of their last three home games, Boxing Day opponents Wolverhampton Wanderers are on a wretched run of just one victory in eight. That change in fortunes for Kenny Jackett’s West Midlands outfit has seen their odds for Championship promotion drift to 14/1 with Coral.
Wolves, 14/5 outsiders to beat the Hornets at Vicarage Road, can take encouragement from the fact that star man Bakary Sako netted home and away when this fixture was last played the season before last.
Mali wide player Sako will soon be leaving to represent his country at the Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea, though. His previous fine form in this encounter may be slightly belied by eight games without a goal, but punters who fancy Wanderers’ wing wizard to end that barren run here should take the 2/1 price on offer in the anytime market.
Despite the coaching chaos endured by Watford this term, they are 5/2 promotion chances and odds-on 10/11 favourites to send Wolves home with nothing. A draw is priced at 12/5.
Former Chelsea and Yugoslavia anchorman Slavisa Jokanovic, the current Hornets head coach, will be pleased to have top scorer Troy Deeney fit and firing again. Since being handed the captain’s armband at the Hertfordshire side, he has relished that responsibility, boasting stats of nine goals in 18 league games, and should shake off a dead leg to lead the line.
Deeney, who has a strike against Wolves on his CV already, has delivered five of those in his previous three outings, including a hat-trick at Fulham and a brace last time out at home versus Wigan Athletic. He is thus even-money to net again anytime, or better at 5/1 for two or more.
Box-to-box midfielder Almen Abdi, who has six caps for adopted country Switzerland, is back to his best after injury. This is evidenced by three goals in his last three.
Like Watford skipper Deeney, Abdi has been on target in this fixture before, and is well-worth backing to score again at a sumptuous 7/2. Despite a hot Hornets attack, Jokanovic will be wary of injuries piling up at the back.
Ex-Romania international Gabriel Tamas is a long-term absentee with cruciate ligament damage, Swedish centre back Joel Ekstrand is out with a back problem and Gabriele Angella serves a suspension.
This may be an incentive for Wolves boss Jackett to start Sako’s fellow Mali forward Nouha Dicko for the first time in two months, following a hamstring problem. He is 7/4 in the anytime market.