Sports Mole previews Tuesday’s Championship clash between Norwich City and Watford, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Both looking to gain promotion back to the Premier League at the second attempt, Norwich City and Watford will lock horns at Carrow Road on Tuesday night as the Championship playoff race intensifies.
The Canaries managed a share of the points at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday afternoon, whilst the Hornets’ worrying run of form continued against second-tier pacesetters Leicester City on the same day.
Following the FA Cup defeat to Premier League title chasers Liverpool at the end of January, Norwich have resumed second-tier matters in largely-impressive fashion, collecting four points from two contests against Mark Robins‘s Coventry City and Marti Cifuentes‘s relegation-threatened QPR.
Strikes either side of the half-time whistle from Kenny McLean and USA international Joshua Sargent cancelled out Jack Colback‘s opener to hand the visiting Canaries a second-period lead on Saturday at Loftus Road, however a pair of January arrivals linked up for the R’s to snatch a point, with Lucas Andersen assisting Michael Frey‘s first goal in English football.
Losing just one of their last six matches in the Championship, David Wagner‘s men remain on the coattails of the playoffs as the season approaches its business end, sitting in ninth position, two points behind six-placed Sky Blues, who Norwich condemned to defeat in their most-recent Carrow Road fixture.
After suffering from a multitude of fitness issues following his arrival from Turkish outfit Giresunspor in the summer, Spaniard Borja Sainz is beginning to hit his sensational stride on the left side of the Canaries attack, with the 22-year-old grabbing two goal contributions in his last three appearances.
Although not as dominant as during their title-winning campaigns of 2018-19 and 2020-21 when the likes of Teemu Pukki ruled the roost, Norwich have been fairly formidable at their East Anglian home so far this season, winning nine and collecting 29 points from 15 Championship matches at Carrow Road.
Watford’s mini-slump at the beginning of 2024 is on the verge of becoming something more concerning, with the Hornets now six games without a win across the Championship and the FA Cup following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Premier League-bound Leicester on Saturday afternoon.
Commencing the campaign fourth in the pecking order of strikers at Enzo Maresca‘s disposal, Patson Daka celebrated another second-tier start by putting his side ahead with a penalty before Ricardo Pereira doubled the Foxes’ advantage, meaning Emmanuel Dennis‘s first goal since returning to Hertfordshire proved to be a mere consolation.
Having last tasted success in the Championship nearly a month ago in West London against QPR, Valerien Ismael has a real job on his hands in trying to guide this Watford crop into the top-six conversation, with Tuesday’s visitors mulling in 11th, six points from sixth place.
With the likes of Joao Pedro and Ismailia Sarr departing to Brighton & Hove Albion and Marseille respectively, the Hornets have been forced to move into a new era of attacking options as they attempt to escape the Championship, with Danish marksman Mileta Rajovic leading the Golden Boot race with eight second-tier goals.
Watford have reigned victorious in 10 of the last 16 clashes against Norwich over the past 14 years, and Ismael’s men have won all three of the games between the sides since they were both relegated from the Premier League in 2022, including a 3-2 success at Vicarage Road in November.
Norwich City Championship form:
Norwich City form (all competitions):
Watford Championship form:
Watford form (all competitions):
Norwich have potentially been dealt a major injury blow ahead of Tuesday night’s clash, with leading goalscorer Jonathan Rowe sustaining a hamstring injury in the final stages of the match at QPR.
Until the result of a scan reveal the extent of the strain, it is unclear when the attacker will be back in action, however it is likely that he will miss the visit of Watford, meaning Christian Fassnacht should keep his spot on the right flank.
Followers of the Canaries were calling for Sydney van Hooijdonk to make an entrance during the second half on the weekend, although the 24-year-old remained on the bench as Wagner opted to throw Onel Hernandez into the Loftus Road fire.
Grant Hanley is targeting a run of games at centre-back alongside Ben Gibson following a period on the sidelines, with the Scotsman set to start only his third league match of the season.
Despite finding the net against Leicester, Dennis is not yet ready for his second full debut as a Watford player – according to Ismael – who is set to start Rajovic in attack at Carrow Road.
The Dane’s reintroduction into the XI has been fast tracked by the injury of Vakoun Bayo, who was forced off after just three minutes last time out.
Tom Dele-Bashiru operated at right-back against the Foxes and impressed his head coach, meaning the Nigerian could start in that unfamiliar role once again.
Norwich City possible starting lineup:
Gunn; Stacey, Hanley, Gibson, Giannoulis; McLean, Sara, Fassnacht, Barnes, Sainz; Sargent
Watford possible starting lineup:
Hamer; Dele-Bashiru, Porteous, Hoedt, Lewis; Kone, Livermore, Chakvetadze; Asprilla, Sema, Rajovic
We say: Norwich City 2-1 Watford
Excluding tough trips to Anfield and Leeds United’s Elland Road, Norwich have been in good form of late and will be confident of continuing their playoff charge on Tuesday.
Watford conclude a tricky trio of fixtures with a trip to East Anglia, and we believe that the Hornets will return to Hertfordshire empty handed.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.