Emmanuel Dennis (£6.1m) was sent off in Watford’s opening match of Double Gameweek 23, as Norwich City frustrated the hosts and grabbed the win thanks to a Josh Sargent (£5.4m) brace and Juraj Kucka (£5.5m) own goal.
Our Scout Notes article reflects on the key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from the fixture.
DENNIS SUSPENDED FOR BURNLEY
In a hugely disappointing night for his owners, Emmanuel Dennis was sent off for two bookable offences and will now miss Watford’s second fixture of Double Gameweek 23 in a fortnights time.
As a result, he ends the Gameweek on -1 points, and -2 for those unlucky enough to hand him the captaincy.
Above: top 10k Double Gameweek 23 captaincy stats, via LiveFPL
Throughout the match, the Hornets’ failed to show any real quality, especially in the final-third, with their best attempt arriving via Moussa Sissoko (£4.4m).
Of Watford’s attackers, Joao Pedro (£5.4m) was once again the busiest of the trio, ending the match with five goal attempts compared to Josh King’s (£5.8m) two, and has now outshot his more popular team-mate by 11 to six over their last two matches.
Above: Watford’s xG shot map v Norwich City in Double Gameweek 23
Following tonight’s defeat, Claudio Ranieri has now lost 10 out of his 13 Premier League games in charge, whilst Watford remain the only side in England’s top four divisions without a clean sheet.
“Maybe we played better 10 v 11. It is very important the lesson Norwich gave us, they played as a team, we played as individuals. That is no good. Now I have to choose the players that want to fight hard for Watford. You have to play 11 v 11.
I believe in my reaction and the players’ reaction. It is not possible to continue in this way because this way we go straight into the Championship. I want the players with heart and mentality who play for the team.
I speak every day with the board and we are all together. I believe in these players, the players who want to believe. Who doesn’t want to believe – go home.
The new players played very well had understand my philosophy. Some players don’t want to understand my philosophy – I want to play straight away, no dribble dribble, shoot straight away. We have to react immediately.” – Claudio Ranieri speaking after the game
FOSTER OUT WITH COVID
Ben Foster (£4.1m), who is owned by 18.5% of FPL managers, was a surprise absentee from Watford’s matchday squad tonight, as he missed out having contracted Covid.
Prior to kick-off, the Hornets’ had revealed he and Craig Cathcart (£4.3m) were out due to illness, with Foster later taking to social media to confirm his absence:
However, Watford’s second part of their double-header is still over two weeks away, which does at least hand Foster plenty of time to recover.
SARGENT BRACE FOR RESURGENT NORWICH
Norwich ended a six-game losing run after beating Everton last weekend, and followed that up tonight with a convincing win at Watford which has seen them move out of the relegation zone.
The Canaries’ had been a team to target over the festive period, as they conceded a whopping 14 Premier League goals in December.
However, Dean Smith has since turned to a 4-4-2 formation which seems be getting the best out of the players at his disposal, and as a result, will now be looking ahead with renewed optimism ahead of their Gameweek 24 clash against Crystal Palace.
Above: Norwich City’s average position map v Watford in Double Gameweek 23, featuring Josh Sargent (no. 24), Adam Idah (35), Teemu Pukki (22) and Milot Rashica (17)
Josh Sargent was the unlikely hero on the night, with his first and second goals of the campaign, whilst Teemu Pukki (£5.8m) collected the assist for his opener, his first attacking return since Gameweek 14.
After the match, Smith also revealed that Tim Krul (£4.5m) could be out for up to six weeks with his shoulder injury, with budget goalkeeper Angus Gunn (£4.0m) set to continue deputising in his absence.
“When you go 3-0 up in a game, I expected us to see it out. it was not a pretty affair from us, we knew it would not be but we started the game off really well. The game got away from us in the first-half but we spoke about it at half time, we were good without the ball today and not so good with. We are in a results business, we needed the result today and it certainly gives everyone a lift.” – Dean Smith
Watford XI: Bachmann, Femenia (Kucka 89), Kabasele, Samir, Kamara (Sema 84), Kayembe, Cleverley (Cucho 59), Sissoko, Dennis, Pedro, King
Norwich City XI: Gunn, Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Williams, Sargent, Lees-Melou, Sorensen (McLean 21), Rashica (Placheta 90+6), Idah, Pukki (Byram 87)
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