Soccer Picks: Stoke Expected to Take Over Struggling Watford by Surprise

Martin Williams

Friday, October 23, 2015 11:55 AM GMT

Stoke have been at it nonstop and don't seem to plan on stopping anytime soon. We foresee a win by a goal. Look inside and find out our Free Premier League Picks for Stoke vs Watford.

Stoke
Stoke are one of the most in-form sides in the league and will go into this game full of confidence after winning their last three matches and shooting up the table. Many were tipping them to crack into the top seven this season after finishing ninth last term and investing heavily in the squad over the summer. 

They were dubbed Barcelona-lite following the signings of Ibrahim Affelay and Moha El Ouriachi from the Catalan giants, taking the tally of ex-Barcelona players at Stoke up to four with Bojan Krkic and Marc Muniesa. They sold key players in Asmir Begovic and Steven N’Zonzi, but bolstered their squad with Premier League stalwarts Glen Johnson and Shay Given, along with £6 million striker Joselu and the most exciting signing of the lot – former Bayern Munich and Inter winger Xerdan Shaqiri, who joined for a world record £12 million.

Optimistic talk died down when they failed to win in their opening six games, registering three draws and three defeats to leave them lingering around the relegation zone. But they have now found form, blending the gritty and determined defending that used to be their trademark with some exciting attacking football. They have ground out crucial wins over Swansea, Aston Villa and Bournemouth – along with a League Cup victory over Fulham – and have not lost since a September 12 visit to Arsenal. Stoke are on an upward march and they should continue their winning run at home to Watford.

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Watford
The Britannia is a tough place to come for any visiting team, a cauldron of noise and animosity, and newly promoted Watford will struggle to impose themselves on the game. They are another side that tries to grind out narrow wins built on a solid defence, but they are not as good at it as Stoke. They held out for an hour against Arsenal last weekend – without ever threatening going forwards – but then ran out of steam and shipped three goals as the floodgates opened in the final third of the match. Before that game they were +500 to be relegated and have now gone in to +400 with Paddy Power and Coral. That still looks to be a good bet. They were pre-season favourites to be relegated, and they are not having a particularly great season so far. They sit in 15th place, just four points above the relegation zone, and will soon be sucked into a relegation scrap. Promoted sides often start the  season well – buoyed on from a winning run in the Championship towards the end of the previous season – and then fade away, struggling to acclimatise to the bigger stage. Watford haven’t exactly started with a bang, and they could fade with a whimper. They spent heavily in the summer, but only two of their signings have any Premier League experience, and Etienne Capoue and Valon Behrami were hardly a success at Tottenham and West Ham.

 

Odds Overview
Stoke are +102 at The Greek to win this game and that looks like a great price. Stoke have won their last three games by a single goal, twice winning 1-0 and prevailing 2-1 over Bournemouth. Expect a similar score this time around. They are +650 with Bet365 to win 1-0 and +950 to win 2-1 with Bet Victor. Both look good value. If you are hedging your bets, Bet Victor is offering +650 for a 1-1 draw, which could happen if Watford really knuckle down. Review our complete soccer odds board for more.

Bojan is such a crucial player to Stoke, and their upturn in form has coincided with his full recovery from a long-term injury. He is their creative spark and he often gets on the score sheet. He takes penalties for Stoke, and dispatched the only goal of the game from the spot to see off Swansea on Monday. You can get +290 with 888 Sport on him to score at any time in the match, and that looks like an interesting soccer pick.

Free Premier League Picks: Stoke +102 at The Greek, 1-1 draw +650 at Bet Victor