Both promoted from the Championship back in May, Watford and Norwich City meet for the first time in the Premier League on Saturday, with the hosts hoping to move into the top half with a victory.
After losing consecutive games, the Hornets went into their last game away to lowly Aston Villa determined to return to form, and that they managed as a result of repeatedly punishing their opponent’s defensive mistakes. The prolific front pairing of Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney were both on target again, with the latter now really beginning to find his groove in the top-flight after a lengthy wait to open his account. In those two alone, Watford have more firepower than Norwich, which could go a long way towards deciding the outcome here.
Already nine points clear of the drop zone, there have been no immediate signs that they are about to suffer a dramatic loss of form, and for that everyone at the club deserves immense credit, particularly as the high turnover of players in the summer and the change of manager led to many writing them off at the beginning of the campaign. Take all three points here, and Watford will already be halfway to securing their safety.
With a tough run of fixtures on the horizon, Norwich will be aware that they could do with getting a result here, and they will be very encouraged by their last performance in the 1-1 draw at home to Arsenal. Behind due to an error from goalkeeper John Ruddy, they produced a rousing fightback and got a point which was the very least they deserved. If anything, they were probably worthy of coming away with a victory, but were guilty of missing some very presentable second half chances.
Manager Alex Neil has made it his priority to find a goalscorer, with Cameron Jerome not proving up to the task and on-loan Dynamo Kiev striker Dieumerci Mbokani having failed to add to his two strikes in October. So against Arsenal the Scot turned to Lewis Grabban, who had faced disciplinary action in August over a proposed move to former club Bournemouth, but reemerged from the shadows to earn them a share of the spoils, and he should keep his place here.
Defenders Joel Ekstrand and Sebastian Prodl are still unavailable for Watford, who should have goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes available despite the Brazilian having been stretchered off at Villa.
Norwich are without on-loan winger Matt Jarvis, but they do receive a boost as Alexander Tettey should return from a groin injury.
Played for both – Damien Francis: Now a football agent, the experienced utility player helped Norwich reach the Premier League in 2004 but was powerless to prevent the side going down at the first attempt. His most memorable moment in a Canaries shirt was scoring a last-gasp equaliser in the 4-4 draw with Middlesbrough, while for Watford in 2006-07 he was a near ever present and found the net four times as they also suffered relegation.