Norwich City welcomes Watford to Carrow Road on matchday 5 of the 2021-22 Premier League Campaign, as both clubs have had challenging beginnings to life back in the big league. Last week, Norwich City were defeated 1-0 by Arsenal, while Xisco Munoz’s team were thrashed 2-0 by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
With the acquisitions of Josh Sargent, Milot Rashica, Billy Gilmour, and Pierre Lees Melou marking remarkable coups for Daniel Farke’s side upon their promotion, there may have been some premature hope among the fans at Carrow Road. Norwich, however, is finding out the hard way about the Premier League’s harsh mentality, having lost their fourth game in a row last week, when Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the game’s sole goal at the Emirates.
Norwich could have, and arguably should have lost by much more on the day after conceding 30 shots to Arsenal, 17 of which were on goal, but Arsenal‘s absence of sharpness saw them hold the margin acceptable and stay bottom of the league. The Canaries are now the only side in the competition without a point, while Newcastle United (12) is the only team in the league to have conceded more goals than Norwich (11) thus far, and Teemu Pukki’s penalty versus Leicester City is their only effort at the right side of the pitch.
Norwich’s fixture list does not improve well before month’s end, with Farke’s men facing Liverpool in the EFL Cup before facing high-flying Everton in the competition the following weekend; then they host Watford to Carrow Road trying to prevent a 15th consecutive Premier League setback. Watford have struggled to build on their dramatic opening-day triumph against Aston Villa, with Xisco watching his side lose three games in a row without scoring against Brighton & Hove Albion, Tottenham Hotspur, and Wolves.
Last time out, Francisco Sierralta’s own goal shattered Watford’s resistance at 74 minutes; then Hwang Hee-chan stepped off the bench to double Wolves’ advantage in the dying momentss, bringing the Hornets’ 11-game winning streak at home in all competitions to a finish. Watford had only fallen once at Vicarage Road in 2021 until losing their grip against Wolves, and with one win from their first four matches, they are in 15th place in the standings, one place ahead of Arsenal for the time being.
Munoz’s side also has games coming up against Newcastle United and Leeds United in the coming weeks, both of whom are yet to win a Premier League match this season, but they come to Carrow Road having won just one of their past six away from home. However, that triumph came versus Norwich in a Championship match in April, with Dan Gosling netting the game’s only goal, and the Canaries have now lost 4 successive league games against Watford.
WHEN & WHERE?
Venue: Carrow Road.
Date: Saturday, 18th of September 2021.
Time: Kick-off at 15:00 BST.
Referee: Robert Jones.
Assistant Referees: Scott Ledger, Derek Eaton.
Video Assistant Referee: Graham Scott.
Fourth Official: Tim Robinson.
Given his delayed arrival from international duty with the United States, Norwich would want to welcome Sargent back into the squad; however, the forward will have to be assessed after complaining of hamstring problems. After contracting COVID-19, Przemyslaw Placheta is uncertain, while Sam Byram, Christoph Zimmermann, and Dimitrios Giannoulis are out, and Bali Mumba is recuperating from a dislocated knee. After being left on the bench at the Emirates, Milot Rashica, Todd Cantwell, and Billy Gilmour will all be hoping for recalls to the first team, while Ozan Kabak will be hoping for a defensive opportunity shortly.
Meanwhile, Watford’s Ben Foster, Joao Pedro, and Gosling are all uncertain at the moment, but might yet be fit enough to play on Saturday, while Kiko Femenia is likely to sit out once again. Josh King only completed 53 minutes facing Wolves before being replaced by Cucho Hernandez, who will be hoping for his first Premier League start of the season here, alongside Imran Louza and Tom Cleverley. Craig Cathcart might now revert to right-back after Jeremy Ngakia was called in to try to contain Adama Traore’s pace and strength against Wolves.
Can Norwich finally find their feet?
It has been an abysmal start to life back in the Premier League for Norwich City, to say the least. 4 losses on the trot, see them currently placed at the bottom of the league with no wins and just one goal scored while having conceded 11. Granted, their fixtures haven’t been kind to them in any way as they have faced Arsenal, Leicester City, Manchester City, and Liverpool in their opening four Gameweeks.
They have scored just one goal in the process and have an xG of just 3.7, which is the third-lowest in the league. However, they have managed to produce at least 10 shots in all of their games except in the 5-0 loss against Manchester City which saw them have just 1 shot in the whole game. Defensively, they have the third-highest xGA while having conceded 11 goals in 4 Premier League games.
Watford seems like the perfect fixture to turn their season around as they have the lowest xG in the league so far. If the Canaries manage to find some clinicality in their finishing, they may as well end up scoring a few goals against the Hornets this weekend.
Can Xisco find the key to unlocking this Hornets squad’s potential?
After a breathtaking display in their opening day 3-2 win against Aston Villa, Watford haven’t been quite the same. They have not had their xG more than 1 since they beat the Villains. They also had just 0.2 xG against Wolves and have an overall xG of just 2.8, which is the lowest in the competition.
They have been somewhat polar opposites to what they were in the Championship last season. We have been able to witness just a shadow of what was a great team less than a year ago. Nevertheless, they have some excellent players like Ismaila Sarr and Emmanuel Dennis who can turn the Hornets’ season around and the Norwich game seems like the perfect occasion to do just that.
NORWICH – TEEMU PUKKI:
Farke’s team will depend upon experienced forward Teemu Pukki to score this season, despite the acquisitions of Milot Rashica, Josh Sargent, and Billy Gilmour. With 29 league goals and 10 assists, the Finnish international signed for Norwich on a free transfer at the beginning of the 2018-19 season and immediately helped Farke’s team gain promotion.
Pukki then enjoyed a promising start to life in the Premier League, but he failed to retain his goal-scoring form in the second half of the season, ending up with 11 league goals as Norwich were relegated to the Championship. Unexpectedly, he has been Norwich’s only goalscorer in the Premier League this season. He will be the key to helping the Norfolk outfit get their season back on track and Watford will definitely have to keep an eye out for him if they want to prevent Norwich from scoring.
WATFORD – ISMAILA SARR:
Ismalia Sarr has been a key player for Watford for several seasons. On his day, the Senegalese attacker can worry any defender. The way he played against Villa on the first day of the season gave an indication of his enormous potential.
Xisco Munoz will likely rely on Sarr to be a menace against Norwich, and he will trust Sarr to deliver. Sarr has lightning-quick feet and could cause problems for the Norwich defense if he uses them properly. Sarr will be expected to score and assist in the upcoming game to help Watford get back on track.
Norwich(4-3-3): Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Omobamidele, Williams; Gilmour, Lees Melou, McLean; Rashica, Pukki, Cantwell.
Watford(4-3-3): Bachmann; Cathcart, Troost-Ekong, Sierralta, Rose; Louza, Etebo, Sissoko; Sarr, Hernandez, Dennis.