Championship Play-Offs: Foxes to pile pressure on Watford in semi-final first leg

8May 2013

England - The Championship


The Championship play-off semi-finals pit Leicester against Watford and Crystal Palace with Brighton, and Jamie Dickenson has assessed Betfair's Sportsbook odds and markets for his preview of both first leg encounters...


Leicester City v Watford

Thursday, 7:45pm (Live on Sky Sports 1)


Watford's nightmare end to the season could be about to get worse when they travel to the King Power Stadium to face Leicester in their playoff semi-final first leg clash.


Watford endured two goalkeeping injuries, a red-card, a late winner from Leeds' Ross McCormack and a comeback from Hull against Cardiff on the last day of the league season, as the Tigers snatched automatic promotion from within the grasp of Gianfranco Zola's side. Zola must now rouse his team for a difficult trip to Leicester - although they did triumph there 2-1 there just two weeks ago. But the Hornets will be without the man that opened the scoring that night, as striker Troy Deeney starts serving a suspension for his sending-off against Leeds.


Despite recording the most away wins in the league this campaign (12), Watford have won on the road just twice from their last six attempts. Championship Player of the Year Matej Vydra should return to the starting XI to replace Deeney, and the 20-goal forward looks the most likely to score for the visitors even though he has not found the net in 12 games for the club.


Leicester will go into the game the more confident of the two sides given they found a stoppage-time goal against Nottingham Forest to secure their playoff chance. French midfielder Anthony Knockaert has been a solid performer all season, and his strike ensured the Foxes pipped Bolton to sixth place in the league.


Nigel Pearson's side have been inconsistent this season - two wins in 13 is hardly strong form going into a knockout format - but they will feel uplifted after winning at Forest while Watford may be deflated after coming so close to automatic promotion. In winger Lloyd Dyer and strikers Dave Nugent and Chris Wood, Leicester have the necessary firepower to punish Watford at home and could take a lead back down to Vicarage Road at a tempting price of 2.05.


Leicester's 46 home goals during the league campaign is the second-highest in the division and they could capitalise on Watford's disappointment by overpowering them with a Win To Nil at a healthy 3.5.


Recommended Bets

Back Leicester at 2.05

Back Leicester To Win To Nil at 3.5



Crystal Palace v Brighton and Hove Albion

Friday, 7:45pm (Live on Sky Sports 1)


Bitter rivals Crystal Palace and Brighton meet at Selhurst Park for the first leg of a potentially enthralling two-legged playoff semi-final.


Crystal Palace ended a barren run of nine games without victory on the last day of the league season by beating - and relegating - Peterborough with a 3-2 comeback victory. It was a timely return to form for Ian Holloway's side but whether they can keep that going against old foes Brighton could be doubtful. Striker Glenn Murray remains the league's most prolific marksman after scoring a penalty against Posh to finish the regular season on 29 goals, but that was his first in nine.


Murray is particularly influential to the Eagles hopes at home in the first leg, as is the creativity of Manchester United-bound Wilfried Zaha. If he and Murray can replicate their form earlier in the campaign then Palace will be dangerous, while their 52 goals at home was the most scored in the division by a cushion of six.


Brighton on the other hand are definitely in good form, with their 2-0 win over Wolves at the weekend (which saw the West-Midlands outfit slip through the down into League One) their fourth win in five. Gus Poyet's side are unbeaten in nine outings, keeping five clean sheets in the process. The Seagulls may struggle to hold out a fired-up Palace side away from home, but they should be backed to find the net themselves after hitting 10 in their last three, and average of over 3.3 goals a game.


Young Kazenga LuaLua has come into goalscoring form at the perfect time of the season with three strikes in as many games, and if he is picked from a strong forward line also possessing Leonardo Ulloa, Will Buckley and Ashley Barnes then he could add to his brace against Wolves.


While these two sides both produced 3-0 home wins against one another during the league season, a repeat result for Palace here looks unlikely given Brighton's form. However a draw is worth backing at 3.2 with Both Teams To Score a more conservative 1.83 bet.


Recommended Bets

Back Draw in Crystal Palace v Brighton at 3.2

Back Both Teams To Score at 1.83


Prices are based on our Sportsbook product, so any winnings are exempt from commission.



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Keywords: Championship, Play-Off, Fox, Watford

Source: Betfair

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