Watford and Middlesbrough are both in danger of being sucked into the Premier League relegation battle, but Saturday’s hosts can ease their fears with victory at Vicarage Road.
The Hornets have been on a poor run of league form and from holding a position within the top half of the table, they have tumbled down to 14th place to leave them looking over their shoulders at the drop zone.
However, Watford have already beaten Boro at the Riverside Stadium this term and can make home advantage count in their quest to complete the double.
This is a match which could go any one of the three different ways, but the reason why we are backing Walter Mazzarri’s side is that all of their last four wins came at home – indeed, since their 1-0 success on Teesside, achieved via a Jose Holebas goal, they have collected only a solitary point on the road in six attempts.
The latest of those successes was in the FA Cup last Saturday, 2-0 against Burton Albion as defender Christian Kabasele and winger Jerome Sinclair, with an excellent individual effort, scored the goals.
Sinclair, signed from Liverpool in the summer, has not had too many chances to impress and has been linked with a loan move away this month, but he may well have staked his claim for more regular involvement through his exploits against Burton.
Troy Deeney of Watford scores a goal during a pre-season friendly match (Getty Images)
Middlesbrough also boosted their confidence with an FA Cup win to nil at home to a Championship side, in their case putting three goals past Sheffield Wednesday as Grant Leadbitter, Alvaro Negredo and Marten De Roon all found the net.
But Aitor Karanka’s men have won only once away from home this term, way back in August against Sunderland, and are struggling for points on their travels even though they were only beaten by two late Manchester United goals on New Year’s Eve after taking the lead.
Boro are only four points above the bottom three and a fairly generous-looking 5/1 (Betfair Sportsbook
) to be relegated, especially if either or both of the new managers in charge of Swansea and Hull are able to generate a considerable improvement in their teams.
Those odds could shrink significantly if the Teessiders lose again to Watford and we will count on this being another success on their home pitch that keeps the points total ticking over for Mazzarri’s men.