The last round of Premier League matches before the final international break of 2019 begins on Friday night when two relegation rivals meet in something of a six pointer as Norwich City host Watford at Carrow Road.
It has not been the start to the campaign that either will have wanted. Over a quarter into the season, Watford are yet to record their first win, while Norwich have offered plenty but are starting to find results hard to come by.
It was a tough beginning to the season for Norwich City but they showcased their potential when they offered up an attacking display and took the game to Liverpool. Highlights came in fine wins over Newcastle United and then Manchester City but injuries started to kick in then and have bitten them really hard, and although players are beginning to return, they haven’t really looked the same side since that win over the champions.
One of the reasons for the drop off has been the quietness of Teemu Pukki in terms of his goal output. When Norwich looked good in August he was banging them in but he has hit the wall at the minute and the Canaries are desperate for their star man to come up with the goods here and get them over the line. No side wants to go into an international break in bad touch let alone one expected to struggle.
When you consider how Watford went last season, this one is something of a mystery really. It is only six months ago they were pushing for seventh place and embarking on an FA Cup final but approaching a dozen matches into the season they have already changed manager and still can’t buy a win. We keep hearing about how their performances have been better than their results but the longer they go winless the bigger the pressure on them will mount.
Clearly the absence of Troy Deeney has held this Watford side back, but you feel this runs deeper than just that. They have only scored more than one goal once this season and that was against a useless Arsenal defence. In the main their matches have been low scoring and they’ve gotten quite negative but you would imagine this will be a match they will target as one they can and should win which might see a more attacking approach.
Norwich have Mario Vrancic back in their squad for the first time since Auugust but whether he starts or is on the bench remains to be seen. Todd Cantwell came on last week and should be ready to start here.
Watford captain Troy Deeney is back in action but he hasn’t played much since August so you would imagine he will only be an option off the bench at best. The same goes for Etienne Capoue and Ismaila Sarr.
This is by far the easiest game of the weekend to predict but given they are slight outsiders it is Norwich City that I want to be on. They have at least shown something this season which Watford haven’t done, especially on the road where they have been humped at Man City, lost at Wolves and Everton and picked up draws with struggling Newcastle and Tottenham. They made the bizarre move to sack Javi Gracia and replace him with someone who already flopped at Vicarage Road and haven’t looked any better for it.
Although they have gone very quiet recently, Norwich do have a goal threat in Teemu Pukki who has bagged as many on his own as Watford have all season in the league, and there is enough creativity to open Watford up. There are concerns about Norwich defensively but I’m not convinced Watford have the firepower to take advantage. The Canaries have gone a bit negative in the last couple of games but that isn’t the way forward for them. They need to impose themselves on the opposition and this is a good time to be doing exactly that. I’ll take them draw no bet.
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