Watford vs. Chelsea Premier League Odds, Pick, Prediction, Preview (Dec. 1)
Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images. Pictured: Claudio Ranieri
- Top-of-the-table Chelsea are big favorites over Watford on Wednesday.
- The Blues dropped points over the weekend to Manchester United, who Watford recently beat.
- Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the matchup and makes his betting pick below.
Watford vs. Chelsea Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-145 / +125)|
|Day | Time||Wednesday | 2:30 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||Peacock Premium|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.|
Chelsea was held to a home draw with Manchester United at the weekend, further tightening the top of the Premier League table. The Blues lead is now just one point over Manchester City and two points over Liverpool as the top three begin to separate themselves from the rest of the league.
It’s a 3-way race for now and Chelsea will need to keep up dominant performances against lower sides if they want to remain with the expected top two of Liverpool and Man City.
The Blues travel to Vicarage Road on Wednesday to take on 16th-place Watford, who has enjoyed a recent resurgence since new manager Claudio Ranieri was hired to replace Xisco Munoz.
The Hornets have tallied 11 goals in their last five games and beaten Everton and Manchester United in the process, but Chelsea is step up in quality and it’s difficult to see how the Hornets defense prevents Chelsea from pressing them off the pitch.
Watford Improving Offensively Under Ranieri
Whatever impact the Watford board expected Ranieri to make upon his arrival to the club, it hasn’t worked defensively at all. The Hornets remain the worst defense in the Premier League, conceding an average of 1.88 xGA per 90 this season.
In six games under Ranieri, the Hornets have allowed more than 2 xGA per match on average. The Hornets are terrible against teams who press them high up the pitch and apply a high press, as shown by their game against Liverpool when the Reds thrashed them 5-0.
With that being said, Ranieri has improved the Watford attack and it’s not quite being priced into the market here. Under their former manager, Watford averaged 0.87 xG per 90 in seven matches this year. Under Ranieri, that jumps all the way up to 1.73 xG per 90. Nearly a full goal more in production and two wins against Everton and Manchester United have followed.
Watford isn’t going to prevent relegation by keeping goals out of its own net, but the team is now more tailored around its strength in attacking talent. Ismalia Sarr (0.40 xG + xA per 90) has added five goals, along with Joshua King and Emmanuel Dennis each totaling five each. That triumvirate of attackers can give even the most solid PL defenses fits and I’m expecting them to create some chances against the Blues on the counter, even if the defense isn’t able to cope with Chelsea at the other end.
Chelsea’s Wobble a Thing of the Past
It appears that both Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner are available and fit enough to start for the Blues on Wednesday against Watford, but is that the best option for the Blues? Chelsea played its best soccer statistically when both of them were out, even if the schedule was a bit weaker in that stretch than the opponents before their injuries.
The Blues have spent the second most minutes in the PL leading by 1-3 goals this year, behind only Liverpool. In those 577 minutes, the Blues have the third best attack, averaging 2.03 xG per 90 and just the 9th best defense, conceding 1.03 xGA per 90 in those minutes. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel talked about trying to hang more crooked numbers this season as opposed to settling for 1-0 and 2-0 wins in a recent interview with CBS Sports, and the numbers back him up on that thus far.
Whatever early-season wobble the Blues had in their performances, they were a bit fortunate to not have dropped more points. They rode the hot goalkeeping of Edouard Mendy but now, with the performances improved, Chelsea is looking as dominant as ever under Tuchel.
Combine Chelsea’s pressing ability and Watford’s defensive fragility and it could be a nightmare for the Hornets defense. Chelsea failed to convert its 2.9 xG into goals last week against Manchester United, but Watford is unlikely to be so fortunate.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The market isn’t fully taking into account Watford’s attacking improvement under Ranieri here and the Hornets still have serious defensive issues, especially when facing teams who can press effectively and prevent from breaking through into space in behind.
Chelsea should be able to overwhelm Watford for large stretches of the match, but don’t be surprised if the Hornets break through the press a few times and score a goal of their own. Dennis, King and Sarr is arguably the best attacking trio of the entire bottom third of the table and the three are combining for well over one expected goal per 90 this season.
The Blues commitment to piling up the goals when ahead — as opposed to sitting on leads as they did last season — helps this game get to at least three goals and shoot over 2.75. My projection has 2.98 goals so I like over 2.75 at -115 or an over 3 at plus money.
Pick: Over 2.75 goals (-115)