Daniel Farke

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Premier League Preview: Norwich City v. Watford

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Two teams more than a result away from safety hope to get a season-changing win at Carrow Road on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET, online at NBCSports.com).

Hosts Norwich City enter the match with seven points, the second worst total in the league to its visitors: basement-dwelling, winless Watford.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

“This will be like a big, big final for both teams,” said Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores.

Watford’s performances have improved dramatically, but the Hornets are six points back of 17th. Norwich has two more points, but their performances have been a far cry from the team that beat Man City and took Chelsea to the limit.


Injuries/suspensions

Norwich City: OUT — Timm Klose, Christoph Zimmermann, Grant Hanley. QUESTIONABLE — Mario Vrancic.

Watford: OUT — Domingos Quina, Danny Welbeck. QUESTIONABLE — Craig Cathcart.


Probable lineups

Norwich City: Krul, Aarons, Tettey, Godfrey, Lewis, Cantwell, McLean, Buendia, Stiepermann, Hernandez, Pukki.

Watford: Foster, Masina, Kabasele, Dawson, Janmaat, Doucoure, Chalobah, Hughes, Pereyra, Deulofeu, Gray.


What they’re saying

Norwich boss Daniel Farke on the mood: “I think it’s important as a coach to face reality, you can’t make jokes and have fun, you’ve got to address the elephant in the room to help them regain confidence. I don’t punish my players, it’s about helping them improve and believe in themselves.”

The Hornets’ Flores on why this match matters: “It is not the end of the season but it is a big final for both of us and the way the game and result can change the future for both teams will be massive.”


Prediction

Troy Deeney comes off the bench to make a difference in his return from injury, and Watford wins 2-1.

Farke says VAR failed Norwich City, Zimmermann

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Norwich City manager Daniel Farke‘s team already had a defender fitness problem when Christoph Zimmermann was forced out of an eventual 2-0 to West Ham United on Saturday.

And the boss is wondering what exactly VAR was doing when Zimmermann was hurt by a sliding Sebastien Haller challenge and, in Farke’s mind, hampered in trying to stop Haller’s goal minutes later.

[ RECAP: West Ham 2-0 Norwich ]

“I’m a friend of VAR, but on this day it didn’t work”

While his below comments are entirely accurate — Haller was the scorer of the goal in question, not celebrating atop the scorer — it’s easy to see why Farke is angry as another center back goes for scans.

“This is a game where VAR didn’t work,” Farke said. “There was a nasty tackle against my center back and it wasn’t even given as a free kick. Then a few mins later my center back wasn’t able to spring back and block the cross (on Haller’s goal). My center back is now in hospital. My feeling was this made the difference.

“The only thing I say is that my center back is in hospital and the other player is on the shoulders of the West Ham goalscorer.”

Criticizing every instance of VAR is going to get tiring, and no one wants VAR to be able to call fouls and award yellows — let’s not take that away from the field — but is there a larger point here?

It may not take so long for VAR to get used to the Premier League, remember that the on-field refs are going to have growing pains: Worried about the flow of the game, let alone their own ego after review, it seems we’re in for more fits and starts.

Also don’t forget that this was a comfortable win for West Ham United, who put 8 of its 18 shots on target, and Farke’s required to talk about something after the game. “We were outclassed today” isn’t less fun as a line of reasoning.

Norwich boss Farke ‘totally in love with this team’ despite defeat

Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images
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Daniel Farke insists he won’t be deterred by one bad result upon Norwich City’s return to the Premier League.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines for opening weekend | How VAR will work in PL ]

Sure, Farke’s side was beaten 4-1 by Liverpool on Friday — it was 4-0 by halftime — but the German manager remains “totally in love with this team,” a group that he says approached the 2019-20 Premier League season’s curtain-raiser with a “greedy” mentality and showed no fear in facing the reigning European champions and PL title chasers — quotes from the BBC:

“We’re disappointed. We were greedy, we wanted to be the first team in two and a half years to win here. But I’m totally in love with this team. The mentality to win the second half in front of an excited home crowd, we showed great character.

“No one wanted to hear it at halftime but I told them we had the same possession and had created more chances. Liverpool had scored four, though. It was tough to take but I felt we were not too far away from a good result.”

Norwich won’t be the last side to be completely overwhelmed by Liverpool — they just so happened to be the first — but the Reds barely had to move out of first gear to establish a three-goal lead inside the opening half-hour. Opening-day nerves — inside the cauldron of Anfield, no less — unquestionably played a part in the Canaries’ slow start, but their commitment to playing attacking soccer will surely cause plenty of problems for more than a few sides this season.