Sports Betting Weekly

Bournemouth v Watford

When: Saturday, 31 January 2015 @ 01:45 (FINISHED)
Where: Goldsands Stadium
A potentially pivotal round of fixtures in the Championship promotion race starts early this weekend as table-topping Bournemouth take on sixth-placed Watford at the Goldsands Stadium on Friday.

Having nearly dropped out of the football league entirely in 2009, the Cherries’ story is one of the most inspiring in modern football as they won promotion to League One the following season before returning to the Championship – where they now sit one point clear at the summit with 27 games played – for only the second time in the club’s history after going up in the 2012/2013 campaign.

Since then, the feel-good factor has continued under boss Eddie Howe, and despite being dumped out of the F.A. Cup by Aston Villa last weekend, the home team have been named as 10/11 favourites to return to winning ways against fellow high-flyers Watford, who are outsiders at 10/3.

While Bournemouth’s record at home this season has been fairly strong – eight of their 15 Championship wins have come at the Goldsands – the hosts were beaten 2-1 by Norwich in their last game on the south coast and go into the match on the back of a run of three defeats in their last four in all competitions. Watford, meanwhile, have been in lethal form of late and have won their last two games in the Championship against Charlton and Blackpool by an aggregate score of 12-2.

As such, the game will be anything but a formality for Howe’s men as they aim to stifle the Hornets free-scoring attack – in particular, Odion Ighalo, who has six goals in his last two games and is slightly over-priced to be the first goalscorer at 7/1. Given Bournemouth and Watford are also the highest scoring teams in the Championship with 57 and 56 goals for respectively, it therefore looks likely that this will be another open affair and there will be plenty of backers for over 3.5 goals at 9/5.

In terms of the head-to-head between the two sides, their last two Championship encounters have ended as 1-1 draws, and this result is again the bookies’ favourite scoreline at 15/2. Beyond that, the only other time they’ve met at this level of English football ended in a 6-1 home triumph for Watford at Vicarage Road last season, and while Bournemouth’s performances this campaign make a similar drubbing look unlikely, it does seem that the visitors are a better prospect than their price suggests.

With all that in mind, such short odds on a home win should probably be avoided; and if you are going to back the Cherries in this one, doing so with both teams to score may be preferable at 14/5.