Friday night’s win for Watford was sweeter than some victories it’s celebrated in the past.
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In the middle of a difficult start to the 2019-2020 Premier League season, Watford secured its first league victory of the year, beating Norwich, 2-0, on the road. Watford played the last 25 minutes down to ten men after Christian Kabasele was shown a second yellow card, but the Hornets appeared to only improve as the game wore on.
With the win, Watford jumps out of the Premier League basement and over Norwich into 18th place, while Norwich with the defeat sinks into last place in the league, just seven points from 12 games.
3 things we learned
1. Flores has brought defensive mindset back to Watford: Friday’s clean sheet was Watford’s third in its last five Premier League games, and even when it’s given up goals, it’s kept things close, with only three goals allowed in that span and one defeat. Clearly, Quique Sanchez Flores has helped Watford rebound from the 8-0 smashing v. Manchester City and they stand a chance at this rate of surviving for another season in the Premier League.
2. No Pukki, no win: If it wasn’t clear before, now it is. Norwich City is completely Pukki dependent. The Canaries looked woeful in the attack and although Pukki had a couple of chances, he wasn’t able to score. The Flying Fin hasn’t scored since mid-September in Norwich’s 3-2 win over Manchester City, a streak now extended to seven Premier League games
3. Big players make big plays: Watford spent millions of dollars to bring in attacking talents like Deulofeu and Gray, and on Friday at least, they showed they were worth the price. The pair each scored a goal and helped lift a struggling Watford team to a crucial win just before the international break.
Man of the Match: Gerard Deulofeu – The Spaniard slalomed through defenders to put Watford up early and then set up Gray with his goal in the second half to round off a great performance.
Watford needed less than two minutes to get on the scoreboard after a poor error from Norwich midfielder Emiliano Buendia. After Buendia coughed up the ball in midfield, Gerard Deulofeu raced ahead, evaded defenders and eventually finished into the far post end of the goal with his weaker left-foot.
It was the beginning of a back and forth affair with chances at either end. Darryl Janmaat and Deulofeu had chances to increase the lead in the next 20 minutes, but both players put their strikes wide of goal. Meanwhile, Alexander Tetty put a shot just wide and Onel Hernandez had a shot saved after Watford’s Ben Foster raced off his line to cut down the angle.
Early in the second half, it was Watford which went on the ascendency. Deulofeu raced down the left side before delivering in a cross into the middle. Andre Gray, a first half substitute, stuck out a leg and redirected the ball in to put Watford up 2-0 in the 52nd minute.
Kabasele was given his marching orders in the 65th minute, after a strong tackle on Norwich’s Josep Drmic and put Watford down a man. However, the team sat back into a low block with two blocks of defenders, and Norwich had no answer the rest of the match to break them down.
The Canaries lack of big-time players came back to haunt them as Todd Cantwell, Teemu Pukki and Drmic all failed to truly threaten Foster in goal.