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Championship - Football: West Brom v Watford preview

Two of this season's promotion favourites meet in the Championship on Monday evening, as West Brom play host to Watford at The Hawthorns.

Both sides have made strong starts to the campaign, with the Baggies earning a creditable 1-1 draw at another of the expected promotion contenders, Middlesbrough, while the Hornets began life under new head coach Rob Edwards by beating Sheffield United 1-0.

That all means Monday's showdown in the Midlands could be a game of fine margins, with Albion 29/20 to win the match, while a Watford victory on the road is 2/1 and the draw 11/5.

Regardless of the outcome of the contest, these are two sides that will be expecting to challenge for promotion come the business end of the season - Albion are 5/2 to be promoted, while Watford are 13/8.

What

West Brom vs Watford

Where

The Hawthorns, West Bromwich

When

20:00, Monday 8th August

How to watch

Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football

OddsWest Brom 29/20, Watford 2/1, Draw 11/5

Jury still out on Baggies boss Bruce

When Steve Bruce was appointed as Albion's new manager in February he was tasked with reigniting the Baggies' floundering promotion hopes.

However, WBA only won six of their 17 league matches under the 61-year-old towards the end of last season as they finished 10th, a full eight points off the play-off places.

That has ramped up the pressure on Bruce heading into this season, but there is renewed optimism at The Hawthorns following a productive summer that included the signings of creative midfielders John Swift and Jed Wallace from Reading and Millwall respectively.

Those two players combined for Albion's equalising goal against Boro last weekend and Bruce will be hoping they can provide the extra flair that was missing for most of last season, as no team scored fewer goals in the top half of the Championship during the 2021/22 campaign than the Baggies.

Swift, who was on the scoresheet at the Riverside, is 3/1 to net at anytime against Watford, while Wallace is 13/5 to open his Albion account.

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Hornets have plenty of sting in final third

Watford were relegated from the Premier League with something of a whimper last term, but it has been all change at Vicarage Road since then, with former Forest Green Rovers boss Edwards coming in as head coach.

He oversaw an impressive 1-0 victory over Sheff Utd on the opening weekend of the season, with Brazilian forward Joao Pedro scoring the only goal of the contest.

Pedro started up front in that game alongside Emmanuel Dennis and Ismaila Sarr - a front three that would be the envy of any team in the Championship.

All three players have been linked with moves away from Watford throughout the summer, but for now they remain at the club, which can only benefit the Hornets heading into Monday's match.

Dennis was Watford's leading scorer last term, netting 10 goals in the Premier League and he is 13/5 to get on the scoresheet against Albion, while Senegal international Sarr is 3/1 and Pedro can be backed at 3/1 to notch in consecutive games.

Limited changes for both teams

This will be the first meeting of the two sides since a 1-0 victory for Watford at Vicarage Road in the Premier League back in March 2018.

That is one of three victories the Hornets have enjoyed from their last five encounters with Albion, while the Baggies are aiming to record only their second success over Watford since 2009.

Neither side is expected to make too many changes for Monday's contest, although Albion could hand a second debut to Turkish midfielder Okay Yokuslu, who re-joined the club during the summer following a previous loan spell in 2021.

Bruce could also opt to include Alex Mowatt and Daryl Dike from the start after both players came off the bench against Boro - the latter is yet to score since joining the club in January.

Edwards appears unlikely to make too many changes to his starting XI and he could go with the same team that lined up against the Blades a week ago.

That would mean summer recruits Rey Manaj and Vakoun Issouf Bayo would have to make do with places on the bench once again - they are two of the players that have been brought in should any of Pedro, Dennis and Sarr opt to move on before the close of the transfer window.

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