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    Watford 2-0 Norwich City


    Vicarage Road was the venue as mid-table Watford hosted relegation threatened Norwich City. The visitors came into the game on the back of a credible draw with Arsenal but just one victory in their last nine games, whilst Watford had three wins in their previous five outings and boasted the most creative strike partnership in the Premier League.

    Quique Sanchez Flores made two changes to his side with Ikechi Anya and Jose Manuel Jurado replacing Almen Abdi and Juan Carlos Paredes on the wings. Alex Neil brought in Declan Rudd for the out of form John Ruddy, whilst Nathan Redmond and Alex Tettey replaced Wes Hoolahan and Gary O'Neil as the Norwich manager continued to experiment with his midfield options.


    Watford would have been well aware that their visitors has scored against them in 22 consecutive matches and with Norwich only keeping one clean sheet all season, you could understand the cagey opening. Alex Neil likes to set his team up to contain and counter-attack away from home so it was no surprise that Watford dominated possession in the opening proceedings. Ben Watson and Nathan Ake were reduced to ambitious long range efforts as the Norwich defence closely marshalled the dangerous Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo. Yet it was always going to be difficult to keep a partnership that had created 23 goalscoring opportunities this season under wraps and on the 30 minute mark another crucial chance opened up. Former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Etienne Capoue threaded a pass to Ighalo who was brought down in the penalty area by Alex Tettey for a Watford penalty. Captain Troy Deeney stepped up and fired the home side into the lead as he scored in his fourth consecutive Premier League match, the first Watford player ever to achieve such a feat.

    Watford should have seen their advantage doubled just nine minutes later. Nyom met a cross on the edge of the box and headed the ball into the path of Ighalo who fired the ball into the goal only to see the assistant referee raise his flag. However replays showed that the Nigerian striker was clearly onside. Despite the warning, Norwich continued to struggle to get a foothold in the game and it was not until injury time in the first half that they created their first opportunity. Sebastian Bassong met a Robbie Brady free-kick but could only head over the crossbar whilst under pressure from the Watford defence. 


    Alex Neil knew his side had to react in the second half and he responded by bringing striker Dieumerci Mbokani on for Nathan Redmond. It did not take long for the visitors to create the first chance of the second half as Robbie Brady outpaced Nyom to latch onto a long ball but could only fire the ball wide of Heurelho Gomes' goal. At the other end Odion Ighalo was still looking dangerous, hitting the side netting and forcing a save from Declan Rudd in the space of seven minutes. Lewis Grabban was replaced by Cameron Jerome but it was Ighalo who threatened again with 20 minutes to go. The powerful striker beat Sebastian Bassong and Ryan Bennett but fired his angled shot just wide of the far post. 

    Quique Sanchez Flores swapped Anya and Jurado for Abdi and Paredes to keep his team fresh, whilst Ighalo continued to search for his goal. With ten minutes to go, the Nigerian poked a ball goalwards, only to be kept out by Rudd again. Norwich were trying to pressurise the Watford backline but Ighalo was still looking the most likely to score, having a penalty appeal waved away after a tussle with Bassong. Graham Dorrans did test Gomes with a 25 yard drive but Watford were looking relatively comfortable. As the game entered injury time, the hosts wrapped the three points up as Ighalo turned Bassong and fired the ball past Rudd for a richly deserved goal for all of his endeavour throughout the game. 


    The victory takes Watford into the top half of the table, sitting in 9th position going into an away fixture at Sunderland next weekend. Norwich remain in 16th, three points above the relegation zone, with a difficult match against Everton next weekend. Alex Neil will be feeling the pressure with one victory and seven defeats in the last ten matches. 

    Chris Lincoln's Man of the Match:
    Odion Ighalo- the striker caused problems for Sebastian Bassong and Ryan Bennett all day long and fully deserved his goal in the final moments of the game.
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    Item Reviewed: Watford 2-0 Norwich City Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Chris Lincoln
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