Gerard Deulofeu fired the visitors ahead after just 76 seconds but Norwich squandered numerous chances to score before half-time against a Watford side who had kept only one clean sheet on the road in 2019.
Deulofeu was the architect, sending Alex Tettey to the floor before lofting a cross from the left on to the penalty spot, where Gray was waiting. The striker was marked by Jamal Lewis and, it seemed, tightly enough too. It turned out to be too tight, however, as Gray chose not to take a touch but simply backheel the ball past the full-back and beyond a non-plussed Krul.
Watford went down to ten men for the final quarter of the game, as Christian Kabasele was dismissed for a silly, second yellow card, but they were already 2-0 up and had enough to resist the troubled home side.
There’s no downplaying the tension. They’ve all been big games of course, all must-win games until we win one but coming before against an international break against a struggling opponent… surely now or, you know, if not never then perhaps too late. Significantly some big names are back in training and this announcement had built anticipation over the anxiety… Troy, Caps, Sarr, Seb, of whom Caps starts in midfield and Troy is a very welcome return to the bench. There’s a nervous energy rippling through the away seats.
There were smiles and hugs and celebrations among the Watford fans. We have waited far too long for that victory and it was well deserved. While the game was not a classic, once Watford took the lead we looked comfortable. Deulofeu can be very frustrating, but he took his goal brilliantly and his assist for Gray’s goal was a thing of beauty (very reminiscent of the goal against Wolves in the cup semi-final). It was wonderful to see Capoue back in the team and his presence in the midfield allowed Doucouré to put in his best performance for some time. The defence was solid, and the lads did very well to keep their shape and organisation with only 10 men on the pitch. With Capoue and Deeney both returning to fitness, the future is looking a lot brighter and we can go into the international break feeling much more positive about our prospects for the season.
The numbers in brackets show which division each club was in.