Watford earned their first league win of the season at the 12th time of asking to clamber off the bottom of the Premier League and consign Norwich to take their place.The moments in the match that counted were a goal in the second minute from Gerard Deulo

Andre Gray backheel seals Watford’s first win and leaves Norwich bottom

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  • 2019-11-09 05:15:03 4 months ago
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Watford earned their first league win of the season at the 12th time of asking to clamber off the bottom of the Premier League and consign Norwich to take their place.

The moments in the match that counted were a goal in the second minute from Gerard Deulofeu and a crafty backheeled effort by Andre Gray seven minutes into the second half. Norwich dominated possession otherwise, had a number of chances and played for 25 minutes with a man extra after Christian Kabasele’s dismissal. But none of that mattered in the end and the Canaries have now taken just one point in seven games.

It was the resistible force against the movable object and, to make matters worse, either term could apply to both sides. It was a question of who would have their head in their hands first and Norwich obliged by giving away the opening goal within 90 seconds.

They have a philosophy and that involves passing out from the back, even when under pressure. Given their proclivity for surrendering the ball under duress, every team are pressing Norwich now and that included Watford.

In most of their recent matches they have put the emphasis on remaining compact but they were buzzing about the Norwich defenders and even Deulofeu was at it.

The Spaniard it was who stepped up to face Norwich’s Emi Buendía 25 yards from goal and with not many seconds on the clock. Confronted, the playmaker attempted to flick the ball behind himself and around his opponent. Bad move.

Deulofeu read the move, robbed possession, advanced at a pace barely above jogging and simply passed the ball beyond Tim Krul.

If anything, the shock was minimal and Norwich got something close to a grip and began to impose their passing game in a way they have struggled to do for much of the season. Key to their hopes was Onel Hernández; the German-Cuban winger was a threat down the left and causing Kabasele no end of problems.

If his end product had been better on any one of half a dozen occasions Norwich would have had an equaliser before half-time.

Watford had a chance to double their lead when Andre Gray, on for the injured Roberto Pereyra, spun in the six-yard box and got a shot off, only to see it deflected wide by Ben Godfrey.

It was an entertaining first half with as many moments of good play as there were errors.

Norwich seemed to be still in the match too, but that calculation changed seven minutes after the restart when Watford doubled their lead. Deulofeu was the architect, selling Alex Tettey a dummy then – once his first cross had been blocked – digging out a ball to the penalty spot where Gray was waiting with his back to goal.

Jamal Lewis was marking him and, it seemed, tightly enough. It turned out to be too tight, however, as Gray chose not to take a touch but simply backheel the ball past the fullback and beyond a nonplussed Krul.

It would be tempting to say that this was the sort of decisive action that comes from Premier League experience, except this exquisite goal was only the second Gray had managed all season.

Thirteen minutes later Kabasele received a second yellow card for a pointless tussle with the Norwich substitute Josip Drmic (his first was for a pointless tussle with Hernández).

The Hornets replaced Deulofeu with Adrian Mariappa and after a 10-minute period in which both Lewis and Kenny McLean drew saves from Ben Foster with long-range efforts, Norwich ran out of ideas, their lack of confidence clear.

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Andre Gray backheel seals Watford’s first win and leaves Norwich bottom

Preview: Manchester United vs. Brighton & Hove Albion - predictions, team news, lineups

Manchester United welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to Old Trafford with both sides looking for a win heading into the international break.

The Red Devils currently sit 10th in the Premier League table, two points and two places behind Graham Potter's Seagulls.

Manchester United

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauds on November 7, 2019© Reuters

United responded from their loss to Bournemouth last weekend by beating Partizan Belgrade 3-0 on Thursday, a result that took their run to just one defeat in six since the last international break.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men were highly impressive in the week and they could quite easily have had five or six, with Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood dovetailing well.

United will be looking for more of the same against a Brighton side whose expansive style means that they can be a little suspect defensively when hit with pace on the counter.

The only downsides from Thursday's game were the knocks picked up by Scott McTominay and Harry Maguire, who have been influential in United looking more solid defensively for the most part during this campaign and being able to play out from the back.

Solskjaer will be hoping that both are fine to play at the weekend as United are currently riddled with injuries, with seven first team regulars already ruled out and Ashley Young suspended.

Central to their effectiveness on Sunday will be Rashford, who has been their most productive player in the Premier League this season, scoring five and creating another three.

The academy product is one of just four people to score for United in their first 11 league games, a number joint with Crystal Palace as the lowest in the division.

More encouragingly for United is the fact that they are unbeaten in their last 41 home leagues matches in the month of November, a record stretching back to 1996.

Recent form: LDLDWL
Recent form (all competitions): DWWWLW

Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton boss Graham Potter pictured on September 14, 2019© Reuters

Brighton are reaping the rewards of Graham Potter's attack-minded football and they could make it three wins on the spin with victory on Sunday.

The former Swansea coach has set the Seagulls up to press in numbers and continually look for openings, an approach that has seen them look threatening and ask questions of every team they've faced this season.

Key to that has been both their success in the air, an area where United have often struggled of late, and the influence of their substitutes, with both Shane Duffy and Leandro Trossard scoring after coming off the bench last weekend against Norwich City.

Their attacking intent and the fact that Solskjaer's side have only kept two clean sheets in their last 22 Premier League matches suggests that Brighton will have chances during Sunday's game.

The Seagulls, who have a mostly-fit squad, will be hoping that United are suffering from a European hangover after playing on Thursday, something that would allow them to make a strong start and put the home team under pressure.

While Brighton's away record against the traditional top six in England's top flight isn't great, they have beaten the Manchester side twice since being promoted to the Premier League.

However, both of those wins have come at the Amex Stadium and, in fact, all four games between the two in the league over the last two seasons have been won by the home side and all four have been decided by a one-goal margin.

Recent form: DLWLWW
Recent form (all competitions): LLWLWW

Team News

Paul Pogba in action for Manchester United on September 25, 2019© Reuters

Paul Pogba heads up the lengthy list of United players currently out injured, with Luke Shaw, Eric Bailly and Nemanja Matic among those also out.

Victor Lindelof is unlikely to feature after not training this week, which means that Marcos Rojo is likely to partner Maguire in defence, with youngster Brendan Williams set to deputise for Young at left-back.

Jesse Lingard looks likely to return to the starting lineup in place of Andreas Pereira after the latter's poor showing against Bournemouth last weekend, while Daniel James is expected to start on the right ahead of Greenwood, despite the teenager scoring again on Thursday.

Aaron Webster will miss out for Brighton after going off injured last week, with Bernardo and Jose Izquierdo both still absent with long-term issues.

Duffy is expected to start at centre-back in Webster's absence, while Trossard is likely to come into the team after his dynamic cameo last week.

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Rojo, Williams; McTominay, Fred; James, Lingard, Rashford; Martial

Brighton & Hove Albion possible starting lineup:
Ryan; Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Burn; Trossard, Gross, Stephens, Alzate; Maupay, Connolly

Head To Head

Sunday's game will be the 22nd competitive meeting between the two sides, with United currently leading the way with 13 wins to Brighton's three.

Brighton have picked up just one point from their six away league games against the Red Devils in England's top flight and that came in March 1983.

Prior to the Seagulls' promotion to the Premier League under Chris Hughton, they had not faced United in over 24 years.

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We say: Manchester United 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

Although they are still not the complete package, United do seem to be finding their groove and they should have enough to edge another tight game against the South Coast club.

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Mohamed Salah insists title race is far from over

Liverpool attacker Mohamed Salah has insisted that it is "way too early" for his team to be regarded as the favourites to win the Premier League title.

The Reds are currently six points clear of second-placed Manchester City at the top of the table ahead of Sunday's meeting between the two teams at Anfield.

A win for Jurgen Klopp's side would move them nine points clear at the summit, but Salah has insisted that even a victory over City would not end the title race due to the amount of games there are left to play.

"They were talking about that [title race] in December last year when we were six or seven points ahead saying it was over," Salah told Sky Sports News. "It's not over, it's three games. If you have a bad period you can be in trouble again.

"Even if we win it's still a long way, it's only November and way too early to talk about the Premier League."

Liverpool have won 10 and drawn one of their 11 Premier League matches this season, with their only dropped points coming away to bitter rivals Manchester United last month.

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