Todd Cantwell

Watford beat Norwich for first PL win

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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.

Bournemouth and Norwich in stalemate

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Bournemouth and Norwich City played out a tense 0-0 draw at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday, as the Canaries dug deep for a point on the road as both teams secured their first clean sheet of the season.

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The Cherries and Canaries both had decent chances in the game but neither were clinical and both Aaron Ramsdale and Tim Krul had some decent outings in goal.

Bournemouth sit in ninth on 12 points, while Norwich are 19th on seven points.


3 things we learned

1. Teemu Pukki is struggling for support: He scored twice for Finland over the international break, but he hasn’t scored for Norwich since that big win agains Man City on Sept. 14. Pukki didn’t get much support and Norwich have scored just once in their last four PL games. He smashed one on goal in the second half which was saved and he was feeding off scraps.

2. Norwich much happier with the point: Daniel Farke has been plagued with injuries all season long, especially defensively, so he will be delighted his side kept a clean sheet on the road against a very dangerous Bournemouth side. At times Norwich rode their luck, but they looked solid enough and Todd Cantwell kept things ticking over in midfield. Tim Krul stood tall too, as the Canaries head home happy.

3. Bournemouth improving defensively: Every could has a silver lining, and for Eddie Howe that will be another decent day defensively for the Cherries. Going forward they disappointed but at the back they’ve only conceded five times in their last five PL outings. That is very good for Bournemouth. Ake and Cook have a strong partnership and Ramsdale is finding his feet. Yes, Bournemouth will have hoped to score three or four against this Norwich defense, but at least they’ve improved at the back and have their first clean sheet of the season.

Man of the Match: Tim Krul – Tough to pick a player of the game but Krul was solid when called upon and organized this banged up Norwich defense well. Used all of his experience.


Bournemouth pressed Norwich back early on and Tim Krul then denied Dominic Solanke.

Norwich had a half chance as Teemu Pukki delayed his effort and Steve Cook cleared, with neither side taking the game by the scruff of the neck.

In a tight, tense game both cancelled one another out in an uneventful first half.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

At the start of the second half Norwich lost yet another defensive player to injury as Ben Godfrey, just back from a hernia operation, was replaced by Tom Trybull.

Pukki’s shot was deflected by Cook as it looped up close to the goal, while at the other end Bournemouth went close as Wilson and Adam Smith combined but the ball was just off target.

Aaron Ramsdale then denied Pukki’s low shot from distance.

Both teams tried to push for the win late on but held back a little as Norwich in particular were happy with the shutout and point on the road given all of their defensive issues.

Crystal Palace beat battling Norwich

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Crystal Palace beat a spirited Norwich City side 2-0 at Selhurst Park on Saturday, as goals in each half from Luka Milivojevic and Andros Townsend did the damage.

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Without several injured played Norwich made it tough for Palace, but Roy Hodgson‘s side had a little more quality when it mattered most.

With the win Palace move on to 11 points for the season, while Norwich have six.


3 things we learned 

1. Eagles fly out of the traps: Roy Hodgson’s men came flying out of the traps and set the tone for this win. They are up to ninth in the PL table and have won three of their first seven games. That is a very good return for a team many thought would struggle after losing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and almost seeing Zaha follow him out of the door. Palace are solid and if they can stay lucky with injuries they will be pushing for a top 10 finish.

2. Injuries hitting Norwich hard: When Michael McGovern, third-choice goalkeeper, is coming on early in the second half you know Norwich have problems. Daniel Farke‘s men have been hit hard by injuries and this is holding them back. They were brave and both Pukki and Cantwell went close to scoring in the first half, but couldn’t

3. Zaha back to his best: Wilfried Zaha had a tough summer and didn’t end up leaving Palace, but he finally looks ready to step up and lead the Eagles up the table. Zaha was a constant threat against Norwich and set up Townsend for the second goal with his tireless running. Zaha was our  Man of the Match and when he plays this well, Palace can match anyone in the PL.


Wilfried Zaha was causing all kinds of problems out on the right flank as Norwich struggled to cope with his trickery and pace.

Ralf Fahrmann then saved from Jordan Ayew as the Eagles came flying out of the traps.

A real moment of controversy then arrived as VAR checked a penalty decision from Jon Moss.

James McArthur turned in the box and was brought down by a sliding challenge from Ibrahim Amadou, as a VAR check confirmed Moss’ decision.

Milivojevic, so reliable from the spot, slammed home the penalty kick into the top corner to put Palace ahead.

Moments after the penalty was scored Fahrmann had to come off and Norwich were down to third-choice goalkeeper, Northern Ireland international Michael McGovern.

Teemu Pukki broke free after a long ball forward and his powerful shot from a tight angle was tipped over by Vicente Guaita. Norwich were almost level just before the break as Todd Cantwell was found in the box but Martin Kelly slid in and blocked his goalbound shot on the line. Marco Stiepermann almost picked out Pukki as the Canaries improved drastically following a shaky start.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Norwich had a few chances on the break and hung into the game until late on.

Zaha’s runs down the left were causing big problems and he weaved past several defenders before setting up Townsend for the clincher in stoppage time.

2-0 win at home. Zaha dazzling.

Textbook Palace.

Premier League most underrated XI

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On Twitter, we asked Premier League fans to submit their choice for most underrated player in the English top flight right now. There were a host of fascinating answers, with plenty of different teams represented.

Tottenham and Liverpool players appeared a lot, not surprising given they reached the Champions League final but have just a handful of true superstars on the roster, with Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino preferring to put together a squad that plays as a greater whole than the sum of its parts.

So, with that in mind, we thought we should take it one step further and put together a full-blown starting XI of underrated Premier League players.

While putting these together, obviously being just five matches, prior seasons are of course taken into account, but this season’s early performances are also heavily weighed. Behold, our most underrated players all together in one squad. How well would these lineups perform in the league?

Our Premier League Underrated XI’s

Kyle Bonn: [ ]

Kasper Schmeichel

Ricardo PereiraJoel MatipWilly BolyLucas Digne

Declan Rice — Ruben Neves —

— Emiliano Buendia — James MaddisonHeung-Min Son

Roberto Firmino —

Nicholas Mendola: [ ]

Bernd Leno

Aaron Wan-Bissaka — Willy Boly — Tyrone Mings — Ricardo Pereira —

Harry WinksFabinho

— Heung-Min Son — James Maddison — Felipe Anderson

Callum Wilson

Daniel Karell: [ ]

Angus Gunn

Matt DohertyMaya YoshidaYerry MinaPatrick Van Aanholt

Todd CantwellManuel LanziniJack GrealishRyan Fraser

— Callum Wilson — Raul Jimenez —

The highlights

Heung-Min Son was probably the most often mentioned name in our Twitter question, and so he earns a spot on two of the lineups. A number of Liverpool players also cropped up, and Bonn responded with the inclusion of do-it-all striker Roberto Firmino and defender Joel Matip, who often finds himself in Virgil Van Dijk‘s shadow but has risen from injury substitute to regular starter.

Also appearing twice are Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson, Wolves center-back Willy Boly, Leicester City midfielder James Maddison, and Foxes full-back Ricardo Peirera. Otherwise, the writers all went in their own directions!

Jack Grealish is mentioned on Karrell’s list, and he has already proven a divisive topic amongst our writers. Mendola included Reds midfielder Fabinho while also singing the praises of West Ham attacker Felipe Anderson who is doing his best to make up for the departure of Marko Arnautovic. The Hammers also appear on Karrell’s lineup with Manuel Lanzini, who owns two assists on the young season. Many folks may still be learning Emiliano Buendia’s name, but the young Argentine has been the brains behind Teemu Pukki‘s breakout season at the head of the Norwich attack.

Manchester United full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka is mentioned, although is he really underrated after moving for $60 million this summer? Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves could lay claim to the label as the best player outside the Premier League top six clubs, although Declan Rice might claim he’s not even the best midfielder. Who is a bang-on starter for your most underrated Premier League squad?

Norwich shock Man City

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Norwich City stunned Manchester City by beating the reigning champions 3-2 at Carrow Road on Saturday.

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Pep Guardiola‘s Man City last lost a Premier League game in January, and were outfought by Daniel Farke‘s Norwich who had 11 players out through injury.

The Canaries went 2-0 up early through Kenny McLean and Todd Cantwell and although Sergio Aguero pulled one back before half time, Teemu Pukki made it 3-1 at the start of the second half. Man City pulled one back late on through Rodri to set up a stunning finish but the Canaries held on to some wild scenes at Carrow Road at the final whistle.

With the win, Norwich now have six points for the season. City remain on 10 points after being stunned.


3 things we learned

1. Laporte badly missed: It is too early to say that Aymeric Laporte‘s serious knee injury will cost Man City the title, but it is clear his absence will be a huge blow. John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi were all over the place in central defense and their slack mistakes in possession epitomized a sloppy defensive display. Those issues spread to Kyle Walker and Ilkay Gundogan and perhaps Pep Guardiola’s decision to leave Kevin De Bruyne on the bench set the tone for the display.

2. Greatest upset in recent history?: Missing 11 players due to injury, Norwich fielded a whole host of newbies and pulled off one of the biggest shocks in recent PL history. Amadou was making his PL debut, while Tettey and Byram were also making their first starts of the season as Daniel Farke was forced to shuffle his pack. Before kick off you could get the same odds on Man City winning 7-0 as you could for a 0-0 draw. That is how unlikely this result was.

3. Pukki a revelation: With six goals to his name already, the Finnish journeyman was at his predatory best once again. He is so calm in front of goal and runs the channels so well on his own. He had little help in attack but gave Stones and Otamendi a torrid evening. Pukki is the breakout star of the PL season so far, and the August Player of the Month continued his wonderful form from the international break (two goals in two for Finland) to lead Norwich to a famous win.

Man of the Match: Teemu Pukki – A goal and an assist is fair enough, but Pukki sets the tone for this entire Norwich team. He runs himself into the ground each and every game, and when he gets a chance he has the composure to wait and wait and wait before slotting home or setting up a teammate. Norwich’s entire team put in superb displays, but Pukki is their undisputed talisman.


After Man City had dominated the early stages, Norwich shocked the reigning champs to take the lead. A corner found McLean and he flicked home a header to score his first Premier League goal and make it 1-0.

City battled their way back into the game and Aguero sent a good chance effort over the bar, before Norwich doubled their lead to send Carrow Road wild.

On the break Pukki ran towards goal and teed up Cantwell perfectly as the youngster slotted home to put Norwich in dreamland.

Before half time Sterling hit the post with a header, and right on half time Bernardo Silva’s cross found Aguero who nodded home to hand Man City a lifeline.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

At the start of the second half Man City were still all over the place defensively as Pukki dragged a shot wide after Stones was caught out and moments later it got worse.

Pukki punished yet another sloppy mistake, as Otamendi was caught on the ball by Emiliano Buendia and the Finnish striker was on hand to sweep home his sixth goal of the season.

Late on Man City threw everything at Norwich as Sterling’s cross was nodded over by Aguero and Tim Krul then denied Otamendi’s header with a fine save. Moments later Man City made it 3-2 as Rodri’s shot from distance set up a tense finale.

Norwich held on for a famous victory as Farke’s banged up squad put together a sensational, gritty display to beat Man City.