- Watford have won four and drawn three of their first nine home games under Nigel Pearson, keeping five clean sheets
- Norwich have the fewest away points in the league this term
- The Canaries have scored only six times in 16 away trips
- Watford have won to nil in four of their five clashes with the bottom three
Make or break for Hornets
While Daniel Farke has suggested that his Norwich side are all but down, Nigel Pearson’s men are still fighting for survival. They’re locked in a tight fight to avoid two relegation slots, but so far things haven’t gone to plan for the hosts. With just one point from their four matches since restarting the season, Pearson’s men have work to do if they’re going to stay a Premier League side.
Norwich went down 1-0 at home to Brighton on Saturday, which was likely their final chance to make a serious push for survival. With just five games left to play, they sit seven points shy of safety. The Canaries need to win every clash to have any chance, but their remaining encounters taking them to both Man City and Chelsea. It’s no surprise that Farke is preparing them for life back in the second-tier.
This encounter with Norwich will be much more important for Watford’s season than their weekend loss to Chelsea, as it gives the Hornets a chance to return to winning ways ahead of the run-in. The hosts have their own tough fixtures to come, so they need to get some points on the board this week.
Watford in need of a boost
The Hornets haven’t looked good enough since the campaign restarted, with three straight defeats behind them going into this clash with the Canaries. The hosts have left themselves in serious danger with that run, leaving them in need of a boost. However, Pearson is the man who is most likely to do it. He’s Watford’s third manager of the season, but he’s picked up 18 of their 28 points since taking charge in December.
The Hornets were unable to build on their 3-0 victory at home to Liverpool in their final home game before the league came to a halt. However, they can get things back on track this week. Under Pearson, Watford have won four and drawn three of nine home matches in the league since Pearson took charge. That run has seen them claim 15 points at home, having picked up only three at Vicarage Road before Pearson arrived.
In that time, Watford have kept five clean sheets. They are looking more solid at the back, which should stand them in good sted for the final games of the campaign. Keeping another clean sheet on Tuesday could be hugely important, as the Canaries can’t stop shipping goals so far this season.
Norwich’s awful away run
Part of Norwich’s struggle to avoid the drop has been their troubles on the road. The Canaries have claimed only six points from their 16 away trips, the lowest in the league. Since the start of December, the Canaries have lost seven of nine away matches. Not only have they shipped 30 goals in those away games, but they’ve scored just six goals. They’ve got the lowest goal tally in the Premier League, scoring only 25 times in 33 matches. With Watford improving at home, it’s going to be tough for the Canaries to add to that here.
The visitors have converted just 3% of their away chances this season, so we don’t expect them to trouble the Watford defence. Meanwhile, the Hornets have stepped up when it comes to facing off with their rivals at the bottom. In their first five matches against the bottom three, the Hornets have won to nil on four occasions. With Norwich looking so poor on the road, another victory and clean sheet for Watford looks well priced.
Meanwhile, Norwich have lost 2-0 on four occasions away from home this season. They’ve lost by two or more goals in 12 of their 22 league losses overall, while only one of Watford’s victories this term have come by a single goal. That includes their 2-0 victory at Carrow Road. Having scored 17 times across their last nine at home under Pearson, we are going with a 2-0 victory for the hosts in this clash.
Key Battle: Craig Dawson vs Teemu Pukki
While Craig Dawson isn’t a Watford star, his presence in the back four is obviously important to Nigel Pearson. He’s picked Dawson in every game since the restart, so we expect the former Rochdale man to be charged with keeping Norwich’s Teemu Pukki quiet. The Norwich forward hasn’t been as clinical in the back half of the campaign, but he has provided four of Norwich’s six away goals.
Meanwhile, Dawson has made an impact at the back this season, playing in their 2-0 victory at Norwich earlier in the campaign. Overall this term, Dawson has blocked more shots or crosses than any other Watford player, while making the third-highest number of clearances and making crucial interceptions. He should find it easier to patrol Pukki, who is without a goal in 12 appearances.
Should Dawson keep Pukki quiet, then the hosts have a great chance. The Canaries have scored once in the Premier League since Pukki last found the net, so stopping the Finn is basically make or break for Pearson’s side. He’s likely to turn to Dawson for that job, as the Englishman has started in all five of their clashes with the current bottom three – keeping four clean sheets.
Watford vs Norwich team news
Watford are without Gerard Deuloeu, Daryl Janmaat and Isaac Success once again. However, the Hornets have no injury issues and are likely to stick with a similar side to the one which lost at Chelsea. A 4-2-3-1 system is the likely go to for the hosts, offering plenty of support for Deeney whilst giving them options in midfield.
Watford predicted line-up: Foster – Mariappa, Cathcart, Dawson, Femenia – Chalobah, Capoue – Sarr, Doucoure, Hughes – Deeney
The Canaries’ battle isn’t helped by the absence of defenders Christoph Zimmermann and Grant Hanley. They are likely to match Watford with a 4-2-3-1 system here, with Teemu Pukki likely to start again after sitting out at the weekend.
Norwich predicted line-up: Krul – Aarons, Godfrey, Klose, Lewis – McLean, Tetty – Buendia, Cantwell, Stipermann – Pukki