Watford challenge returns as City bid to end losing streaks
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Watford have proved a thorn in Daniel Farke’s side during his time as Norwich City head coach, winning all four of their games against the Canaries since the German arrived.
Of the teams Farke has faced on four occasions in league games since arriving in Norfolk, Watford are the only team to win all four, with one draw managed against Wolves. Four of six games against Sheffield United have also been defeats.
City supporters will need little reminding of the painful 2-0 home defeat to a winless Hornets team almost two years ago, when a combined brain freeze between Ben Godfrey and Emi Buendia proved so costly inside 90 seconds.
The big build-up to a televised Friday night encounter under the floodlights was swiftly punctured and saw Watford leapfrog City at the bottom of the table.
Both clubs would be relegated eventually but the Hertfordshire side did also rub some early salt into the Norwich wounds with a 2-1 win at Vicarage Road during the Project Restart period, amid a spirited survival push under Nigel Pearson that would only finish a point shy of 17th place.
While Norwich managed a steadier period of Championship stabilisation during the first half of last season, the arrival of Xisco Munoz just before Christmas sparked a remarkably consistent second half which would see the Hornets join City in bouncing back to the Premier League automatically.
The Canaries won the title and finished six points clear of the runners-up on a club record of 97 points - but lost 1-0 away from home on Boxing Day and by the same score in April with promotion already confirmed.
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Which leaves Farke with a record of played four, lost four, conceded six and scored one from his four matches against Watford.
Drill down into the stats further and a contrast in styles becomes clear, with Norwich averaging 60pc of possession across those four encounters.
They’ve also averaged just short of 15 shots in each game, to Watford averaging slightly lower at 13, with both teams at around three on target.
Yet the Hornets average close to 21 tackles made and 20 aerial duels won in those games, as opposed to almost 12 tackles and over 11 aerials for City.
With both teams undergoing plenty of changes since promotion and both desperate for a win ahead of Saturday’s crunch clash, can the Canaries end their losing streaks both against Watford and in the Premier League?
Nov 2019 – Premier League
Norwich 0 Watford 2
With the injury crisis easing but Alex Tettey still needed in central defence, Godfrey strode forward and lost the ball barely a minute into the game, then Buendia also lost possession with an attempted back-heel which was punished by Gerard Deulofeu.
The excitement about the potential for kick-starting the season soon turned to frustration and the early boos at Carrow Road were heard again as Andre Gray flicked a Deulofeu cross in after more slack defending in the 52nd minute.
Watford defended well and played on the counter, even dealing with the loss of Christian Kabasele to a second yellow card fairly smoothly, with Jamal Lewis and Kenny McLean at least managing to test Hornets keeper Ben Foster in the second half.
- Possession: 66pc – 34pc
- Shots (on target): 17 (5) - 12 (2)
- Tackles: 18 – 25
- Aerials won: 8 – 10
July 2020 – Premier League
Watford 2 Norwich 1
Relegation was already close to a certainty thanks to four straight defeats after the season was restarted but City at least scored the only goal of their eventual 10-loss slump, with an early left-footed curler from Buendia.
Craig Dawson headed a free-kick in at the back post in the 10th minute though and Danny Welbeck adjusted brilliantly to score an awkward but spectacular overhead kick in the 55th minute which settled a fairly even encounter – with Adam Idah desperately close to a late equaliser.
- Possession: 44pc - 56pc
- Shots (on target): 9 (4) - 12 (3)
- Tackles: 21 – 19
- Aerials won: 30 – 13
Dec 2020 – Championship
Watford 1 Norwich 0
Xisco Munoz’s first game in charge was settled by star man Ismaila Sarr in the 39th minute, turning in at the back post after Ken Sema had beaten Max Aarons on the right.
It was the hosts’ only shot on target of a largely drab televised encounter played on Boxing Day evening.
- Possession: 35pc - 65pc
- Shots (on target): 7 (1) - 16 (3)
- Tackles: 18 – 9
- Aerials won: 13 – 18
April 2021 – Championship
Norwich 0 Watford 1
The Champagne had to stay on ice for just a little longer for the eventual champions, with Watford still looking to make sure of promotion.
Dan Gosling squeezed in a Joao Pedro cross in the 57th minute, with City struggling to find their usual rhythm, just a few days after their promotion partying.
- Possession: 53pc - 47pc
- Shots (on target): 14 (2) - 23 (5)
- Tackles: 11 – 19
- Aerials won: 20 – 7