Watford vs. Chelsea Picks and Predictions: Will the Blues Make It Look Easy on Saturday?
Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images. Pictured: Willian, Tammy Abraham
- Chelsea are odds-on favorites over Watford in their Premier League match on Saturday afternoon (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
- Chelsea's offense has been terrific since the Premier League resumed play, but their defense has let the Blues down.
- BJ Cunningham thinks Chelsea's high-octane offense and struggling defense provides value on the Over/Under:
Watford at Chelsea Odds, Pick
|Watford odds||+750 [BET NOW]|
|Chelsea odds||-245 [BET NOW]|
|Draw odds||+350 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday at 3 p.m. ET|
Saturday afternoon’s Premier League matchup between Chelsea and Watford has major implications at both ends of the table.
Chelsea are suddenly in danger of falling out of the top four after a loss to West Ham on Wednesday. Wolves and Manchester United are both big favorites on Saturday, so the pressure could be turned up even higher by the time this match kicks off.
Watford are only one point above the relegation zone and will need to pick up points wherever they can if they want to survive.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is an advanced statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as luck or outstanding goalkeeping.
Chelsea stumbled on Wednesday, losing as a big favorite to West Ham. The Blues controlled most of the second half, but they were caught too far up the pitch on multiple occasions, which ended up costing them the game.
Despite the loss to West Ham, Chelsea’s offense has been firing on all cylinders since the restart. The Blues created 7.3 expected goals in their first three games, including 4.23 in a victory over Man City.
Even though they’ve only won eight of 16 matches at Stamford Bridge this season, the Blues have a +1.60 expected goal differential (2.34 xGF, 0.74 xGA) in those games and they have the second-most expected points at home this season.
With a high-octane offense and a shaky defense, Chelsea matches typically feature plenty of scoring. On average, games featuring the Blues see 3.17 total expected goals so it’s easy to see why 66% of their matches have gone over 2.5 goals.
Frank Lampard switched to a 4-3-3 formation halfway through the season and the change in tactics has paid huge dividends. The switch in tactics has specifically benefited Willian and Christian Pulisic, who have combined for five of Chelsea’s six goals since the restart.
Project Restart has not been kind to the Hornets, who have taken just one point from their last three matches. Watford looked especially terrible against Southampton in a 3-1 loss at home on Sunday.
The Hornets have just one win in their last 10 matches and their offense has been sputtering, averaging just 1.22 xG per match in that span.
Nigel Pearson’s squad typically lines up in a 4-2-3-1, which usually leads to a lot of goals. That formation provides the Hornets with multiple options going forward and it encourages creativity from their attacking players.
The downside of lining up in the 4-2-3-1 is that it puts a lot of pressure on the defense and puts the fullbacks in a lot of 1-on-1 situations. This has led to some high-scoring games. Watford averages 2.93 total expected goals when they play out of the 4-2-3-1.
Chelsea opened as big favorites in this match and I expect their odds will continue to rise. As of Friday, 83% of the money is on the Blues.
Based on my model, I see little value in backing either side, but since I am projecting this match for 2.96 total expected goals, I think there’s value on the Over 3 at plus-money.
- Chelsea project odds: -253 (71.64% win probability)
- Watford projected odds: +905 (9.95% win probability)
- Draw projected odds: +443 (18.42% win probability)
- Chelsea projected xG: 2.19
- Watford projected xG: 0.77