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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Hammers happy to nail another road success

Watford worth opposing as favourites

West Ham's Manuel Lanzini (left) celebrates with Mark Noble
1 of 1

Premier League
BT Sport 1, 5.30pm Saturday 

It takes something special for TV bigwigs to select a game for live coverage that has next to nothing riding on it at this stage of a potentially thrilling Premier League season.

The top six sides are battling for titles and Champions League qualification and it looks as though seven teams are fighting to avoid the drop.

Seventh may yet be good enough for the Europa League - Everton hold a four-point advantage over West Brom in that regard - and there are five clubs from ninth-placed Stoke to Watford in 13th who are seemingly destined for mid-table.

So there isn't a great amount of appetite to watch West Ham's trip to Watford, but a bet on the Hammers may at least liven up a fixture which is the least important top-flight game this weekend.

Watford, 33-1 for relegation, may be seen as having some work to do before safety is completed and that could still be the case after West Ham have visited Vicarage Road.

The Hammers made an awful start to the campaign and were still 17th after a 2-2 draw at Liverpool in December but that point was the catalyst for much-improved Premier League results.

West Ham's next ten league games have produced six wins, including away to Swansea, Middlesbrough and Southampton, while they were pegged back at the death in a draw with West Brom last time out.

Two of the three defeats came to Manchester City and Manchester United, while the 1-0 loss at Leicester was harsh as they dominated possession and forced more shots on and off target.

Moving from Upton Park to Stratford did not run as smoothly as the club would have liked, while the row between Slaven Bilic and departed star man Dimitri Payet played a part in the rocky start.

The Hammers seem happier these days and even if Andy Carroll remains sidelined there is a nice shape to the team, apart from right-back where Bilic has unsuccessfully tried several options.

January arrival Robert Snodgrass can be a difference-maker and West Ham look better all over the pitch compared to the 4-2 defeat in the reverse fixture in September.

Watford, who are favourites, have won only three of their last 13 matches, one of which was at home to second-tier Burton and another came against a Burnley side who were reduced to ten men after six minutes.

The stunning 2-1 victory at Arsenal was much more like it from Walter Mazzarri's outfit and he will be hoping recent forward capture M'Baye Niang can maintain his excellent early form.

However, Watford have one clean sheet in 15 Premier League matches and that came in a home bore draw with powder-puff Middlesbrough.

Recommendation
West Ham draw no bet
1pt 21-20 Betfair, BoyleSports

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com


Team news
Watford
Sebastian Prodl, Craig Cathcart and Valon Behrami are doubtful. Christian Kabasele and Nordin Amrabat join Costel Pantilimon and Roberto Pereyra on the sidelines. 

West Ham
Slaven Bilic has not ruled Andy Carroll out of the trip entirely but the Chelsea game is a more likely return date. Aaron Cresswell, Arthur Masuaku and Andre Ayew have knocks but Angelo Ogbonna and Diafra Sakho remain sidelined. 

Key stat
All nine of West Ham's wins this season have come against sides currently in the bottom half of the table

Watford have one clean sheet in 15 Premier League matches and that came in a home bore draw with powder-puff Middlesbrough
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