Ighalo To Fire Hornets Past Boro
The games continue to come thick and fast in the Championship, so with only two days rest for Middlesbrough and Watford how will they fare in Monday afternoon’s clash?
A ding-dong battle against Derby at Pride Park two days ago saw Watford come away with a share of the spoils after an entertaining 2-2 draw was earned thanks to Odion Ighalo’s equalisier with 15 minutes to play. Despite taking an early lead it was a result which boss Slasiva Jokanovic will have taken after the Hornets were reduced to ten men just before half-time when Marco Motta was sent off for the foul which resulted in Darren Bent’s converted penalty.
Their second failure to win in a row saw Watford drop to fourth in the table, four points ahead of Brentford, but only behind both Norwich and Bournemouth on goal difference, and they have picked up a respectable tally of 26 points from their last 36.
Ighalo’s goal was his 15th in his last 13 league games and 18th in the Championship this term and moves him just one behind Troy Deeney as the club’s top goalscorer in the league this season.
Patrick Bamford scored the only goal of the game in Boro’s win over Wigan on Good Friday to send the Teeside club back to the top of the Championship table, although there’s still only two points separating the top four with six games remaining for each of them.
It was a third win in four for Aitor Karanka’s side who’s also watched his side keep clean sheets in each of those victories, although they’ve been quite erratic in general recently with four losses in nine. They’ve picked up fewer points than any of the top five away from home too.
His first-half winner against the Latics two days ago was a 14th league goal of the season for Bamford, making the Chelsea loanee the club’s top scorer this season, with Grant Leadbitter a further two goals behind him.
Joel Ekstrand is out for the season for Watford after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury before the international break, Motta will also serve a one-game suspension following his sending off against the Rams two days ago, with Daniel Toszer likely to start in his place.
Lee Tomlin could return to the starting line-up for Boro after being benched against Wigan, while Jonathan Woodgate may not be risked to play for a second time in three days although no new injury worries have been reported to trouble Karanka.
Head to Head
The drew 1-1 at the Riverside last October with Deeney levelling matters after Kike had scored the opener for Boro. Deeney grabbed the only goal in this fixture last season for Watford, who are unbeaten in four against these opponents, and lost only one of the last six.
Watford should take comfort after they avoided defeat against Derby despite playing the majority of the game with a man less, so I can’t see them losing here although the qualities which make this a wonderfully competitive division also make it notoriously unpredictable.
8/13 on both teams scoring looks the safest bet on offer and over 2.5 goals has plenty of merit at 5/6, but the only odds against bets I’d fancy are in the goalscorers markets with the red-hot Ighalo a worthy 9/2 favourite as a first goalscorer and Grant Leadbitter a fine 3/1 shot to score anytime.