Southampton vs WatfordEnglish Premier League, KO: 17:30 Nov 30, 2019, St Mary's
THE first door on the advent calendar still hasn't been opened but Watford's trip to Southampton already has the feel of a relegation six-pointer.
The rock-bottom Hornets headed into the weekend five points adrift of safety, with Saints just a point ahead of them, so the loser of this clash could find themselves cut further adrift.
Southampton should have the edge as the home team but their form at St Mary's has been abysmal. All four of their victories this term have come on the road, two of them in the EFL Cup, so they need a vast improvement in results at home to stand any chance of dodging the drop.
The undoubted low point came a month ago when Leicester came calling and dished out a 9-0 thrashing. It wouldn't have been too much of a shock had boss Ralph Hasenhuttl been binned in the wake of that embarrassment but the Austrian has lived to tell the tale.
To be fair to Hasenhuttl (pictured below), performances have picked up since then, with Saints unfortunate to lose 2-1 at champions Manchester City after taking a shock lead.
They also should have beaten Arsenal at the Emirates last weekend, with Saints blowing a series of great chances before the Gunners scored at the death to snatch a 2-2 draw.
But in between those games Southampton turned in another impoverished display at St Mary's, crashing to a 2-1 defeat against a poor Everton side.
So how this game pans out depends on which Saints side turns up. Will it be the one that has impressed against the big boys or the one that continually flops in front of an exasperated home support?
Watford have also been infuriatingly inconsistent and their season has mirrored Saints' to a certain extent. They also suffered an embarrassing thrashing, crashing 8-0 at Manchester City in September, but impressed against some top sides, drawing with Spurs and Arsenal while being edged out 2-1 by Chelsea.
I tipped the Blues to win with both teams to score in that game but the Hornets almost snatched a point at the death when keeper Ben Foster came up for a corner and saw his header kept out by opposite number Kepa.
Performances have picked up a little since Quique Sanchez Flores replaced Javi Gracia (pictured below) but Watford have still won just once away from home all season.
That raised hopes that Flores' side would turn a corner but they were thrashed 3-0 at home by Burnley in their next game, summing up that inconsistency.
How do the bookies view it?
A Southampton victory is 23/20 with Unibet, with the draw 131/50 at Marathonbet and a Watford win 13/5 with the same firm. This is a hard one to call but I've a feeling Saints will build on that fine display at Arsenal by finally recording that elusive home win.
Injuries and suspensions
Saints have no injury worries while Watford are sweating on several key players, including Roberto Pereyra, Craig Dawson, Daryl Janmaat and Tom Cleverley, although Christian Kabasele returns from suspension.
Diamonds in the rough
Hasenhuttl may be tempted to field the same side that started at the Emirates but I've a feeling Moussa Djenepo will start up front.
The livewire came off the bench against Arsenal and although he missed a few great chances to wrap up victory, Saints looked far more dangerous with him in attack. Djenepo is 5/1 with Bet365 in the anytime scorer market and that looks overpriced, even if he starts on the bench again.
For Watford, Gerard Deulofeu continues to be a shining light in the darkness. The Spaniard is too talented to play in a struggling team and I'm amazed Flores has started him on the bench a few times this season. The former Barcelona kid is 3/1 with Unibet for a goal here and again that looks great value.
Neither of these sides have looked solid at the back so I'd expect to see a few goals here. Both teams to score is 79/100 with Marathonbet while over 2.5 goals is 49/50 with the same firm.
This English Premier League match between Southampton and Watford will be played on Nov 30, 2019 and kick off at 17:30