Weblog: The football punter

Have faith in plenty of goals at Vicarage Road

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Arsenal have not gone 16 successive away league matches without a clean sheet since Don Howe was manager in 1984-85 but they could equal that unwanted run against Watford.

Unai Emery's men are the only Premier League outfit to have conceded in every game on the road this term and Vicarage Road is not an ideal next destination.

The Hornets are buzzing after booking their place in the FA Cup final with a scintillating 3-2 defeat of Wolves and, with Javi Gracia's men eyeing silverware as well as a top-seven berth, they can feed off an electrifying atmosphere in Hertfordshire.

Arsenal should be in fine spirits after responding to their Everton defeat by taking a 2-0 advantage in their Europa League quarter-final tie with Napoli.

But the clean sheet secured in that match was deceiving and any backline brawn the Gunners have shown at the Emirates has tended to evaporate on the road this campaign.

Carlo Ancelotti's men mustered nine shots, continuously finding space behind Arsenal's high back line, and Piotr Zielinski blew a golden chance to net an away goal which would have changed the complexion of the tie.

Emery's defensive headache is not aided by a key absence at the back.

Sokratis returned to the first-team fold in the Europa League but will not be available to marshal their rearguard at Vicarage Road after picking up a tenth booking of the season in the loss at Goodison Park.

Arsenal seem overdue to spring a surprise on the road - Bournemouth are the highest-ranked side they have beaten away from north London - but even at odds-against quotes they should be swerved.

Watford, meanwhile, have lost four of their five home assignments against top-six opposition and the best punting strategy could be backing goals between these two top-heavy units.

The home side's explosive 3-2 semi-final win over Wolves was one to savour but should have come as no surprise to shrewder Premier League observers.

Wagers on both teams to score and over 2.5 goals have clicked in each of their last six matches in all competitions and the Vicarage Road faithful have seen just one goalless stalemate in the league since April 2018.

Gerard Deulofeu made his mark in the pulsating contest at Wembley and spearheads an attack comprising Troy Deeney, Roberto Pereyra and Will Hughes, who can play their part in a high-scoring affair.

Both teams to score & over 2.5 goals

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Match in Focus


Charlton v Sunderland

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Sunderland drew 20 of their 48 league and playoff games this season.
Expert verdict
After missing out on automatic promotion and scraping past Portsmouth, nerves could set in for Sunderland at Wembley. But they are resolute defensively and it could take time for Charlton, who have already been to the national stadium and lost once this year, to wear them down.