Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
With twelve games left in the season, and both these sides where they are in the table, it is more than legitimate to call this game a “six-pointer”. Brighton are just two points outside the relegation zone and, after a solid first half of the season under Graham Potter, have found points – and particularly wins – hard to come by in the last couple of months. A 3-3 draw last weekend at West Ham saw them come from two goals down – twice – but that does mean that they found themselves two goals down (twice) to West Ham.
While we’re on the subject of mixed blessings, Watford would have snatched your hand off at the beginning of December had you offered them the chance to be where they are in early February. They are no longer rock bottom of the table, and recently escaped the relegation spots – but it may have been a brief reprieve, as they start the weekend in 19th place after losing at Aston Villa and blowing a 2-0 lead at home to Everton to lose 3-2.
Brighton and Hove Albion vs Watford Prediction: Brighton and Hove Albion 1-1 Watford
This encounter may be tagged as a clash of styles – the innovative Potter testing his approach against a traditionalist in Nigel Pearson. That, in truth, is hardly fair to the latter, who has achieved plenty in the game and is more of a thinker than most give him credit for. However, for both managers, what matters this weekend is less how they get points on the board, and more that they must get some, ideally three. In the end, Watford’s form is better, but Brighton are on home soil and those forces may cancel each other out in a score draw that for both sides is better than nothing.
Our recommended tip: Lewis Dunk booked
One of the many mini-battles that will take place on the Falmer turf this Saturday evening will put Dunk – a rumoured transfer target for Manchester City – up against Troy Deeney. It’s going to be a physical battle of the sort that Pearson (the player) would have relished. It’s also likely to stray beyond the boundaries of strictly legal football. Dunk has eight bookings to his name this season, while Deeney has committed four times as many fouls as he has scored goals; it’s easy to see both of them ending up in the book, but particularly the Brighton man, who is 12/5 with William Hill to see yellow.
Brighton could hardly have hoped for a better start to the season than a 3-0 win away from home, and that was what they got when these sides met six months ago. Watford, who have since changed manager twice, simply never got out of the blocks, falling behind on 28 minutes when Abdoulaye Doucoure put through his own goal. Midway through the second half, Potter made a tactical change that generated immediate results, throwing on strikers Florin Andone and Neal Maupay. Andone scored with his first touch, followed 12 minutes later by a debut goal for Maupay, as Brighton ran out easy winners.
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Players to watch: Lewis Dunk & Danny Welbeck
Dunk, as mentioned, is one of the most booked players in the Premier League this season. He also jointly holds the Premier League record for most own goals in a campaign, having scored four in Brighton’s 2017/18 season. None of this means Dunk isn’t any good; he’s actually excellent, and always ready to put his body in the way of an opponent or the ball to prevent his side conceding. That can end badly, sometimes; but more often, it works very well, as shown by the interest in Dunk from bigger clubs.
When Watford picked up Welbeck on a free transfer, there was no doubt they’d got themselves a high-quality player. The former Manchester United and Arsenal forward has all the necessary qualities to be a top player. He unfortunately also has the propensity to get injured often and for long periods. He’s a man to watch here because, if he gets his chance, he can easily win a game; his finishing, movement and aerial game are all major assets if Watford can get a run of games out of him.