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Monday, July 6, 2020

Watford v Norwich: Hornets to sting goal-shy Canaries

Watford v Norwich: Hornets to sting goal-shy Canaries

Watford can take a big step towards Premier League survival by beating goal-shy Norwich on Tuesday, says Andy Schooler...

Watford v Norwich
Tuesday July 7, 18:00
Live on Sky One, Sky Sports Premier League and SS Arena

They think it's all over...

Both Watford and Norwich suffered defeats on Saturday but the contrasting reactions of their managers was notable, particularly with this game in mind.
After a 3-0 defeat at Chelsea, where the scoreline fairly reflected the gulf between the sides, Watford boss Nigel Pearson spoke positively about his team's "commitment and desire", clearly rallying them for a run of games which could well determine whether they stay in the Premier League or not - after this they face Newcastle and then West Ham.
On the other hand, Norwich supremo Daniel Farke essentially threw in the towel after the Canaries' 1-0 home loss to Brighton.
"We are not relegated but realistically this was our last chance to get back in the mix with a good result," he said after a game which left his side seven points from safety with five games remaining.
Todd Cantwell may not have said the same thing but his body language certainly did as he sat on the pitch for 10 minutes after the match. Team-mates gave off similar vibes. It looked a squad resigned to its fate.
Neither Cantwell nor top scorer Teemu Pukki started against Brighton. More changes seem likely here with young striker Adam Idah being touted for some starts in the closing games of the season.
Frankly, Norwich haven't been good enough.
They did score goals early in the campaign and will always have that 3-2 win over Manchester City.
But they've looked toothless for some time - Saturday's defeat was their seventh in eight games. All of the losses have seen Norwich fail to score. They have netted just one goal in their last nine matches and in total have been shut out on a league-high 16 occasions.

Hornets need second wind

It is worth remembering Watford also looked doomed earlier in the campaign but the appointment of Pearson sparked an upturn in fortunes.
The revival over the festive period was a strong one but things have admittedly dipped since - it's just one win in 11 for the Hornets - but they come into this game a point above the relegation zone and with their fate in their own hands.
They've generally been better than they were at Stamford Bridge where Danny Welbeck made an impression as a substitute and may well have forced his way into the starting XI here.
Ismaila Sarr on the right wing and Abdoulaye Doucoure (pictured above) in an attacking-midfield role look players likely to trouble a Norwich defence which has regularly cracked, so while Watford's form is far from strong they still look good enough to beat a disillusioned visiting team.

Watford 'to nil' the best option

The hosts, 2-0 victors in the reverse fixture back in October, are 1.70 to win the game with Norwich out at 6.00. The draw can be backed at 4.00.
However, given Norwich's weak goalscoring record, Watford to win to nil looks a more tempting option at 2.86 in the match odds and both teams to score market.
Norwich have lost nine of their 16 away games in this manner and have failed to score in 11 of 16. Trips to fellow relegation contenders Aston Villa, West Ham and Brighton have all resulted on defeats to nil, while they also failed to score at Bournemouth.
Watford have kept five clean sheets in nine home games since Pearson's appointment and while fans are no longer at Vicarage Road to create their advantage, it's worth noting the Hornets have won at Bournemouth without conceding this season, as well as in that game at Carrow Road.
Given the importance of the game, expect Pearson to focus on keeping things tight early on, safe in the knowledge that they have the greater quality which they can make pay later in the contest.

Tight contest on the cards

If that is the case, backing a goalless first half at 3.00 may well look good business.
That's been the score at the break in eight of the 16 games at Vicarage Road this season, while Norwich have managed just one goal before the interval in the entire campaign.
For similar reasons, I'd also be tempted by under 2.5 goals in the game if pushed.
There will be tension here given the game's importance and if Watford do get ahead, it's unlikely they'll be pouring forward looking for a second.
Norwich have lost every game in which they've fallen behind so Watford should be confident of seeing out the match if they do get their noses in front.
The market have over/under 2.5 as a virtual pick 'em but that makes the unders look value to me.