Norwich v Watford
Tuesday April 20, 18:00
Norwich preparing for the Premier League
Norwich's return to the Premier League was sealed before the Canaries took to the field against Bournemouth on Saturday night as Swansea and Brentford both failed to win. Nevertheless, Daniel Farke's charges started with intensity, Emi Buendia putting City ahead early on to end a fine move through the middle.
But a controversial straight red card for Greece defender Dimitris Giannoulis - who was second to a keenly-contested tackle - gave Bournemouth encouragement and the high-flyers hit back with three second-half goals to secure a 3-1 success in Norfolk. Despite first defeat in 14, Norwich will be crowned champions if they beat Watford here this midweek.
When asked if his players will be allowed to celebrate promotion, Farke said: "As long as they're not too tired. I'm a bit too old for long celebrations and also, after a pretty long day, pretty exhausted and can't wait to sit on my sofa. But it's totally allowed - perhaps not the perfect preparation for Tuesday but the lads deserve it."
Watford suffer damaging derby defeat
Watford's promotion push suffered a setback as they were beaten 1-0 away at Luton in what was a poor derby day display. The Hornets never looked like scoring throughout the vast majority of the match, meaning a James Collins penalty in the second half was enough for the hosts to claim both the victory and the bragging rights at Kenilworth Road.
The visitors just about managed to keep a clean sheet from a first half in which they were overrun in midfield and pinned back inside their own box. However they created problems of their own after the break and gifted the Hatters a spot kick that divided the two teams at full time before finishing the match with 10 men as Kiko Femenia was dismissed.
Post-match, head coach Xisco Munoz has called for calm and togetherness. He said, "It was not our best performance and we know about this. Now is the moment we need to stay together, everyone, and now is important everyone puts more passion into our club."
Munoz was forced to make two late changes with Carlos Sanchez starting in place of Nathaniel Chalobah, who failed a late fitness test. Adam Masina meanwhile was due to start but felt unwell during the warm up and had to be replaced by Achraf Lazaar at late notice. Both Chalobah and Masina remain doubts for Tuesday's trip to Carrow Road.
Watford have enjoyed reasonable supremacy over Norwich in recent meetings. The Hornets arrive on the back of four victories in the duos past five league meetings since 2015/16, including a 1-0 triumph in their Boxing Day dust-up. The visitors also boast a W9-D2-L4 return over the past 15 fixtures, including five wins from their last eight trips to Norfolk.
Norwich 2.265/4 suffered their first league loss in 14 fixtures on Saturday (W11-D2-L1). It was also only the Canaries' second home reverse of the campaign with Daniel Farke's charges in particularly strong form since October's international break (W26-D8-L4). However, with promotion secured and the subsequent celebrations, the hosts are easily opposed here.
Watford 3.309/4 have been one of the division's strongest suits since Xisco Munoz arrived. The Hornets have registered W15-D3-L4 to cement their place in the automatic promotion places, whilst underlying performance data suggests the hosts have been the division's most dominant during that period. Watford have W11-D1-L2 in their most recent 14 outings.
Norwich's strong defensive numbers have meant the Canaries have proven an unreliable source for goal-hungry punters. In fact, 25/42 (60%) of City's Championship contests have featured fewer than three goals with Daniel Farke's troops seeing only 22.31 goals per-game on average in 2020/21. Under 2.5 Goals is trading at 1.875/6 on Tuesday night.
Watford have largely proven to be mean defensively since Xisco Munoz took charge, as well as clinical in forward areas. The Hornets boast 12 shutouts in their past 22 Championship contests, and 16 clean sheets in 30 going further back. Despite scoring in 18 of 21 outings since Christmas, that's meant goal-heavy games have been reasonably hard to come by.
Even so, I'm happy to swerve the goal markets here and instead support Watford at 2.33 off a scratch 0 start on the Asian Handicap. This selection sees our stake returned should the game end all-square - the Hornets have plenty still to play for and could take advantage of a Norwich side that are unlikely to be at their very best following their promotion party.