Watford v Norwich: Hornets to secure crucial win in fight against drop

Watford face Norwich on Friday night and Simon Mail is backing the Hornets to clinch a vital win over their fellow strugglers...

Hornets stop rot at Newcastle

Watford face Norwich in a vital match at the bottom of the Premier League and Claudio Ranieri's hosts are fancied to claim a much-needed victory. The Hornets head into the match in 17th position, only one point and place above their opponents at Vicarage Road. Watford appeared to be heading into the bottom three until Joao Pedro's late equaliser snatched a 1-1 draw at struggling Newcastle last weekend.

It was a huge reprieve for Watford as the team avoided their seventh successive league defeat. Ranieri was under huge pressure but their point at St James' Park gives them something to build on ahead of the Norwich clash. Defenders Samir and Hassan Kamara and holding midfielder Edo Kayembe were all handed their debuts after joining this month to bolster Watford's bid to avoid relegation.

Norwich win offers fresh hope

Norwich have long appeared doomed with their return to the Championship looking inevitable. But the Canaries occasionally pop up with a result which has breathed life into their hopes.

Last week's 2-1 victory at home to Everton resulted in Rafa Benitez's dismissal and also propelled Norwich up to 18th in the table.

A Michael Keane own goal and Adam Idah's finish secured only their third league win of the season.

It was a huge result for Norwich which has given their supporters hope of a recovery during the second half of the season. Norwich are still overwhelming favourites to be relegated but Dean Smith's side have at least shown they will not go down without a fight. It increasingly looks as if three of the bottom four will be demoted but their collective struggles suggest a low-points total could be enough for one of the teams to avoid the drop.

Watford can justify faith as favourites

Watford are deemed 2.14 favourites for this critical contest at the bottom and the hosts look equipped to take the points. The Hornets are bound to be lifted by their late point at Newcastle and can build on this by extending an excellent record against their opponents. Watford's 3-1 victory at Norwich earlier this season was their fifth successive league win over them.

Norwich are 3.75 to pull off a priceless win at Vicarage Road under the lights. The visitors are boosted by their success over Everton but their away record is a concern. Norwich have won just one of their 10 away matches this season and have only scored three goals.

The draw is priced at 3.6 but this outcome will do few favours for either team. Watford have only drawn two of their league matches this season and know the importance of taking maximum points. Norwich also cannot afford to sit back and both teams will be desperate for a win. Watford's greater goal threat stands out though and the Hornets look worth backing to widen the gap between the teams in the race to beat the drop.

Goals likely between porous defences

Watford merit support for this match and there could be a route to more profit by siding with them to concede in victory. All four of their league wins this season have been with their opponents getting on the scoresheet.

Ranieri's side have failed to keep a clean sheet in the competition all season and Norwich will fancy their chances of breaching their weak defence.

A home win with both teams scoring is very generously priced at 3/1.

If Watford are to avoid relegation, much will rest on Emmanuel Dennis continuing his exceptional first season in English football. The Nigerian forward is the joint fourth highest scorer in the league with eight goals. Dennis opened the scoring during Watford's win at Carrow Road in September and can punish Norwich again. A bet on Dennis scoring during the match stands out at 21/10 against a team with the worst defensive record in the division.

Opta Stat

Norwich have won just one of their last eight away league games against Watford (D2 L5), winning 3-0 in the Championship in February 2015.

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