Bet of the Day: Norwich to beat Watford in Premier League actionPublished on: November 8, 2019Author: Antonia Kelly
Two teams very much at the wrong end of the Premier League table provide this Friday’s top-flight match, with 20th-placed Watford very keen to end a winless run that’s started to get a bit out of hand. They’re currently without a win this season, and tonight marks their 12th attempt; that’d still be four short of the 2012 QPR side in terms of hopelessness, but it looks bad nonetheless. For Norwich, in 19th, the dodgy spell has come on more recently. They own a win over champions Manchester City, achieved in September, but since then they’ve gone on a losing streak that has included losses at Brighton and Burnley, and home reverses against strugglers such as Aston Villa and Manchester United.
The Hornets may be bottom of the league and the only side yet to pick up three points from a match, but it’s hard to argue with the conclusion that they are favourites here. Recent results have seen them pick up draws against an in-form Sheffield United and at Tottenham; in the latter game, Quique Sanchez Flores’ men led for most of the game and were unfortunate to not get their first win. For Norwich, tonight’s mission is clear – stop the rot and get on with the rest of the season. To lose tonight would be to fall to the bottom of the table – and given that they’d just have played what should theoretically be an easy game, there’d be little reason for confidence about the future.
Don’t expect a shoot-out
One of the biggest Premier League stories of the first few months of the campaign was the productivity of Canaries’ striker Teemu Pukki, who set the Championship alight last season and seemed to pick up where he left off. A hat-trick against Newcastle accounted for half of his league tally so far this season, but after six goals in his first five outings this season he’s gone quiet. The Finn is essential to his side’s hopes of a successful return to the division, and tonight would be a great time for him to get back among the goals.
The drawback in this scenario is that, since Sanchez Flores returned in the Watford hotseat, his side have tightened up considerably in defence. They aren’t really the opposition a side struggling to score wants to face right now. That said, Norwich’s own defence – which in the absence of the best three centre-backs at the club is looking pretty threadbare – will be grateful for the fact that the Hornets’ own defensive improvement has come at the expense of even looking like an attacking side. Several bookies, 888 among them, are pricing this game at 6/5 for fewer than 2.5 goals. We’d be all over that given both sides’ limitations.
Hornets missing their sting
Last season, Watford only narrowly missed out on European qualification, and were one of a select group of clubs that won their first four games of the season. Under Javi Gracia, the side benefited from the attacking power of Andre Gray and Troy Deeney, the support from midfield of Abdoulaye Doucoure and the width provided by Deulofeu, Will Hughes and Roberto Pereyra. Add to that the laser-precise left boot of Jose Holebas when it comes to set-pieces, and there was plenty of potential in the yellow and black of the Vicarage Road side.
That ever-present threat from last season is more or less completely absent this time around. The same players are still in situ, but they’re not scoring as often and, with Sanchez Flores arriving, Watford’s tactics have become focused on keeping the opposition out. It’s probably a wise decision – getting the defence right is never a bad idea for a struggling side – but it lessens the chance of picking up wins in games like tonight’s. Betway are offering 13/10 for “No” in the Both Teams To Score market – and with a pair of underperforming attacks taking to the field, that sounds like the right choice.
Things not getting better for Hornets tonight
Watford are not without reasons to be optimistic tonight – the fact that they have looked much better in recent weeks, and the current tailspin in Norwich’s form being the main two. Surely, if they’re to get that elusive win, this is the time? The bookies certainly seem to think so. However, there is the counter-argument that it’s been easy to look better than expected, as Watford have, when facing sides halfway up the table. In a real battle – a match that even at this stage of the season has that whole “six-pointer” feel about it, things may well be different. Also, there’s the not inconsiderable fact that this Watford side lost 2-0 to a clueless, poor Everton side a fortnight ago.
Both teams are more than capable of losing this game. Look at the league table – if you want Premier League teams capable of losing games, these are your guys. The ropey performances of both sides mean that this game itself is tricky to call, but on a Friday night with the weather on the turn you’d always prefer to be playing in front of your own fans. For that reason we’d back Norwich at 7/4 with Unibet to win – leaving Watford with a big job on their hands to come back from this terrible start to the season.
Bets of the Day
Norwich to win (Unibet, 7/4); Both teams to score – No (Betway, 13/10); Fewer than 2.5 goals (888, 6/5)