Chelsea (-287) vs Watford (+1200), Draw (+475)
Chelsea (4-1-3, 13 points) host an overachieving Watford (4-3-1, 15 points) this Saturday, October 21st, for a strange top-table game that could end up being a pivotal fixture in the 2017-18 Premier League season.
Watford have far exceeded expectations in their opening games and currently sit fourth in the league. The general consensus is that their success will be short-lived and, sooner or later, the upper crust of the Premier League will be populated by the bigger, wealthier clubs.
But then again, that’s what they said when Leicester was at the top two years ago.
It’s hard to pin down what, exactly, is different about Watford this season. They made a few signings over the summer, picking up players like Burnley’s Andre Gray and Everton’s Tom Cleverley. But that’s not enough to explain the rise of the 17th-place finishers.
They haven’t exactly had an easy start, either. They opened the season with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Liverpool and captured a 2-1 victory against Arsenal last week. Without a European tournament or the League Cup to worry about, the Hornets can focus solely on the Prem.
Chelsea, on the other hand, are currently fighting a war on three different fronts. Along with the Premier League, they’re locked in a tough Champions League group and will have to face Everton in the next round of the EFL Cup. Their match against Watford is sandwiched between clashes against Roma (October 18th) and Everton (October 25th), meaning they’ll play three games in just over a week.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was open about his frustrations concerning the summer transfer period. He butted heads with the Chelsea board, which clung tightly to its checkbook while Conte pushed for big-ticket signings. He claimed that the squad lacked the depth needed to succeed at both the Premier League and Champions League. And he may be right.
The starting line-up is nothing to scoff at, but the bench in severely lacking. If any of his key players are injured or suspended (which will definitely happen with multiple games a week), there really aren’t any suitable replacements. After the Roma game, Chelsea could be a greatly depleted side, which would haunt them against a young and hungry Watford.
It might seem crazy, but I’m siding with the Hornets on this one. Chelsea are the better side by a country mile on paper, but they’re being stretched a little too thin at the moment. That was evident in the team’s recent 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace, a team that had yet to score a single goal all season. We have all the ingredients for another upset here, and with the line at +1200, it’s well worth the risk.
Pick: Watford (+1200)