Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
Watford and Brighton & Hove Albion will play another season in the Premier League. They have achieved their mission and avoided relegation in spite of playing in the most competitive championship in the world. During the season break both teams have strengthened their backline and made a couple of offensive additions. These will probably be insufficient to propel them into the first half of the standings. However, they should be enough to keep them above the relegation area at the end of the regular season.
The stakes are particularly high in the opening match, because these two teams share the same objective. Losing against a counter candidate in the race to avoid relegation is the worst-case scenario. As a result, both managers will be inclined to feature defensive starting formations. First and foremost, they will try to avoid defeat and score on the counterattack if they have the chance. Watford are the team more likely to apply pressure, because they have home pitch advantage.
During the friendly games campaign, both teams shifted into a more aggressive gear. They were able to score in each of these matches, but conceded plenty of goals and most games ended undecided. Brighton & Hove Albion transferred Andone from La Coruna after the team relegated. They were in dire need of a quality striker, after scoring the fewest goals on the road last season.
Watford brought back Success from Malaga, while also transferring Penaranda from the same team. The strikers still have plenty to prove in the Premier League and they were not particularly successful in the Spanish La Liga either. The hosts continue to rely more on their offensive midfielders and the backline to protect narrow margin leads.
Watford vs Brighton & Hove Albion Prediction: Watford 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
The last time these two teams met in Watford the match ended undecided. The visitors won’t be too upset with a similar outcome as they will try to win the return match. For the hosts, the prospect of starting a new season with a scoreless draw in front of their fans is not that alluring. The first half is likely to be a quiet one, with the hosts trying to take the initiative without exposing themselves to counterattacks.
As time passes Watford players will feel the pressure more acutely than the visitors. They will take more chances and try to find breaches in a generally solid backline. Brighton & Hove Albion had a terrible percentage in matches played on the road last season. They are likely to concede a goal, but the odds of them scoring are not that good. With these things in mind, a Watford 1:0 Brighton bet makes sense.
Our recommended tip: Narrow Home Win
Watford started last season on a very positive note and spent a lot of time in the first half of the tables. The positive streak includes victories over top opponents and plenty of low scoring draws. They were unable to defeat Brighton & Hove Albion but they will have the opportunity to pick up all three points on Saturday. They have no injury concerns and play in front of their fans, so Watford can’t settle for draw.
We don’t expect them to throw everything they’ve got at the visiting team right from the start. However, Watford is likely to take the initiative in the first half and probe Brighton’s defenses. Eventually, they will find their way to the net and take the lead. The hosts have a solid backline and midfielders that can support both the defense and offense. This means that they should be able to defend the narrow lead.
For many years, Watford and Brighton & Hove Albion played in the Championship, dreaming of promotion. The last time this happened was in 2015 when Watford won on the road and drew at home. On the same year they promoted to the Premier League and Brighton joined them one year later. Last season, the two teams met again and this time it was the newly promoted football club that emerged victorious. They were happy to settle for a scoreless draw in Watford and win at home by the odd goal.
Recent results might favor today’s visiting team, but overall Watford has the advantage in head to head matches. They won seven times, finished just as many matches undecided and were defeated only five times. There is obvious balance between these two teams and home pitch advantage didn’t prove to be critical. In the last six games, the average of goals scored was of less than two per match. Except for the two 1:1 draws, in the other four matches at least one of the two teams didn’t score. We expect a similar outcome in this match, because of their propensity for defensive starting formations and the high-stakes.
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Players to watch: Doucoure & Glenn Murray
Watford isn’t known as an offensive team or one willing to pay large amounts for superstar strikers. Their success is the result of great synergy between players and team play. Having said this, one footballer stands out from the crowd of offensive players and his name is Doucoure. The Frenchmen has scored only seven goals last season, but those were still enough to make him the top scorer for Watford. What makes his goalscoring percentage particularly impressive is the fact that he actually plays as a midfielder. He can provide decisive passes to strikers, while sending equally dangerous balls to the net defended by Ryan.
Brighton & Hove Albion have scored 34 goals last season and only 10 on the road. Glenn Murray had 12 to his name, so basically every goal in three belongs to this talented striker. He was also the artisan of the few victories secured on the road and played an invaluable role offensively. The visitors will focus more on preventing Watford from scoring, while threatening their net on counter attacks. Murray has the speed and technique needed to create and exploit any breaches that might appear in Watford’s defenses.