Chelsea and Watford, both still involved in positional squabbles, meet in the penultimate round of the Premier League season at Stamford Bridge (2pm Sunday).
Chelsea are currently in pole position to beat Arsenal and Manchester United to fourth in the table and a spot in next season’s Champions League. Seventh is now unlikely for Watford, but there are financial rewards for emerging at the top of the three-team scrap for eighth.
Both still also have alternative means of securing participation in European competition next season. Watford would qualify for the Europa League if they defeated Manchester City in the FA Cup final later this month, while Chelsea could still take the Champions League place afforded to the winner of the Europa League.
Maurizio Sarri’s side took a step towards the final of that competition by securing a 1-1 draw away to Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their semi-final on Thursday. Their hosts went ahead midway through the first half, only for Chelsea to equalise with a potentially decisive away goal from Pedro on the stroke of half-time.
Back in the league, it has been a strange month for the four teams competing to fill third and fourth in the table. Manchester City and Liverpool have continued their relentless pace at the top of the table, but the pack behind them have consistently stumbled. Arsenal and United have two of the worst five records in the Premier League since the start of April. Chelsea’s is only the 10th best.
Tottenham Hotspur have more or less managed to keep things ticking over and now look fairly secure in third, leaving Chelsea seeking to hold off the other two and take fourth. They are two points ahead of Arsenal and three ahead of United with a trip to Leicester City to come after Watford’s visit this weekend.
Given their superior goal difference in relation to United, victory over Watford would all but seal fourth if an Arsenal side also coming off a Europa League semi-final fail to take all three points at home to Brighton. Any other mix of results would leave the race very much open ahead of the final round of fixtures and this is how the top 4 betting odds with the bookies looks at the moment.
Watford’s 1-2 home defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend ended their realistic hopes of beating Wolves to seventh in the table. They are still just a point behind Leicester in eighth and level on points with Everton in ninth, albeit with a decisively worse goal difference than either. With each place worth around an extra £2 million in prize money, they will want to finish the campaign strongly.
Not content with simply steering Watford to their first FA Cup final since their 1980s heyday, Javi Gracia has also overseen what is highly likely to be the club’s strongest league finish since that time. Their current position of 10th would be their best since 1987. Higher than ninth would represent their best campaign since they took a surprise second in 1983.
Watford are a pretty well-balanced side, with the ninth-best attack in the Premier League and the 12th-best defence. They have made relatively short work of the teams at the bottom of the EPL table, winning seven and remaining undefeated through their 12 matches against the bottom six. They have also done a solid job against teams in and around them, winning four, drawing one and losing two of their matches against the teams currently placed from seventh to 11th.
Where they have come up short, especially compared to Wolves, is in their record against the top six. They have lost home and away to Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United, away to Spurs and at home to Chelsea. Their home win over Spurs in September yielded their only points against one of those sides.
Our Preview’s Chelsea vs Watford Betting Tips Verdict
The top UK bookmakers’ odds somewhat underestimate Watford’s chances of getting a result on Sunday. Watford are as long as 8/1, with Chelsea 2/5 to win this match and the draw at 4/1.
Watford may have struggled against the top six, but Chelsea have failed to win home or away to any of three teams directly ahead of Watford in the table this season. Watford come into the match well-rested and with a full week to prepare for it.
There is unlikely to be much difference between the sides, making Watford a solid play and a value wager at prevailing odds to win this game.
- Bet on Watford to win @ best odds of 8/1 with Betfair.