Preview: Watford v Norwich

Has the Watford side really changed that much? How slippery is their penalty box? Jon Rogers gets the Watford lowdown from fan and Sky Sports presenter Adam Leventhal, plus learns 10 new languages

Jon: After so many changes to last season's team, would you be confident naming the entire Watford squad if your life depended on it?

Adam: Now I don't want you to worry too much about this, I can tell you're concerned. I know you will have done your research about the players that have come into our squad and the impact it has had on the match-day squad so I won't bore you with it too much. However, I thought I'd just give you an example of how seismic the shift has been to our starting XI and bench since last season. 

I’ll concentrate on a match at Vicarage Road between play-off winners Norwich City and the side that were automatically promoted – Watford – in which the visitors went away with all three precious play-off-place-helping points. That day these eight players featured for the Hornets: Gomes, Cathcart, Paredes, Anya, Abdi, Watson, Deeney and Ighalo. 

It just so happens that the same eight players all featured in our last match against Aston Villa. It may appear to be wholesale changes from the outside, but there have been subtle refinements and improvements. 

Jon: There’s quite a contrast in managers between the two teams – Alex Neil’s shiny, round head while Quique Sánchez Flores comes with sexy beard. But, aside from that, what has he changed at Watford since he’s come in? Has the style of football changed?

Adam: He's an experienced coach who knows exactly what he wants and the way he wants to do it. No hair, no bristle, no scarf-knot or turn-up is left unturned – he is in control and we love him for that. 

Seriously though, some may feel a man who looks that cool could only boast style over substance, but no, Watford have become a team built in his image. We are looking good at the moment: neat, tidy, organised but with a ruggedness that is getting some in a fluster and an inner steel that is making us, so far, tougher to beat than we have been in a long time. 

Jon: Has it surprised you how quickly all of the new players in the squad have gelled? Apparently Watford fielded 10 different nationalities in the win over Villa?

Adam: Ahalan
Guten Tag
Dobry
Goddag
Bonjour
Hola
Merhaba
Namaste
Hej
Mirdita
Hello

No not our line-up, but hello in 11 languages. We speak the language of football, and enjoy speaking that language to one another on the pitch and in the training ground canteen where they serve only the finest delicacies from around the world. 

Jon: We’ll google translate those ourselves then…

Norwich did the double over Watford last season, both 3-0 wins, and the win at Vicarage Road was helped along a little by some excellent falling over in the penalty area from Wes Hoolahan. There seemed to be a bit of animosity from the Watford fans to Norwich fans after that, so are you expecting a feisty atmosphere?

Adam: Everyone is welcome at Vicarage Road. Watford is a family club where anyone is free to dive in for 90 minutes and enjoy a game of football whenever they wish. 

Jon: And how good is Odion Ighalo, because he looked a bit rubbish last season?

Adam: Do you know anyone else who is so natural a goalscorer that an anagram of their surname is Hi! Goal?

Jon: Four clean sheets at home suggest Watford are difficult to break down. So what weaknesses can Norwich be looking to exploit and what have you made of Norwich this season?

Adam: As we’ve learnt in recent seasons, there are seemingly some very slippery areas in our penalty box so make sure everyone watches their step.

Jon: Do they still play that Elton John song before kick-off? And if so do you have enough professional clout to stop it?

Adam: Play I'm Still Standing now. Go on… I'll wait here…

Listening yet? 

Good.

How many goosebumps have you got? 

None?

Well that's the difference between you and I.

PS It’s Z-Cars that is played when we come out onto the pitch. 

Jon: Finally, where do you think Watford and Norwich will finish this season, and what’s your score prediction for Saturday?

Adam: I ain’t tempting no fate, fool. 

Adam Leventhal is a Sky Sports News presenter, and runs Tales From, which recently published Tales from the City, a collection of Norwich City tales from the likes of Grant Holt, Iwan Roberts, Bryan Gunn, Simon Thomas, Chris Goreham and Jon Rogers.

You can follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamLeventhal

 

We love doing The Little Yellow Bird Project, and we would like to keep doing it. If you would like to donate to this noble cause and help keep the website and podcast going, then please press the donate button below. Thank you!