MX23RW : Wednesday, March 20 12:05:54

Preview: Watford vs. Crystal Palace - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final tie between Watford and Crystal Palace.

Watford play host to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday afternoon keen to boost their chances of reaching next season's Europa League.

Palace make the short trip to Vicarage Road looking to register a third high-profile victory over the Hornets in the last six years.


Watford

Javi Gracia in charge of Watford on February 2, 2019© Reuters

Watford have suffered heavy defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City in recent weeks, but Javi Gracia will still be optimistic that his side head into this weekend's contest in good shape.

Gracia can justifiably point to his side being on the wrong end of a poor refereeing decision for City's first goal last Saturday, and it proved crucial as the Hornets suffered a 3-1 defeat.

However, Gracia had made major changes to his starting lineup for the fixture at the Etihad Stadium, and Watford went into that game having won four of their previous five matches in all competitions.

There remains a strong desire to bring European football to Vicarage Road next season, but a sense of perspective is also required at a time when Watford continue to surprise many with their longevity.

Few expected the Hertfordshire-based side to maintain their form throughout the campaign, but Gracia has made a habit of involving each of his outfield players on a regular basis.

That has also been the case in the FA Cup but despite the frequent alterations, Watford have reached the last eight of this competition having kept three successive clean sheets in away ties.

Woking, Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers have all been dispatched in close games, and Watford now have a chance of securing another outing at Wembley Stadium.

Thirty-five years have passed since an appearance in the final of the FA Cup, but Watford have rarely been better prepared to end their wait to lift the trophy for the first time in their history.

Recent form: LWLWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWLWL


Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson cuts a frustrated figure on December 4, 2018© Reuters

Roy Hodgson would have regarded last week's Premier League fixture with Brighton & Hove Albion as the perfect preparation for the match with Watford, but even defeat to the Seagulls may prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Eagles.

Palace were heavily fancied to see off one of their rivals, but the setback in front of their own supporters should ensure that complacency is not a factor heading into a game of this magnitude.

Hodgson's side had suffered just one defeat - at home to Manchester United - in eight outings ahead of last weekend's match, and there was a sense that Palace were not going to be involved in any battle to avoid relegation to the Championship.

However, Palace now only sit five points above 18th-placed Cardiff City, and Hodgson will stress that this quarter-final tie needs to be the start of the club's final push over the next two months.

Hodgson will be delighted with how his side have been performing in the final third, and the January arrival of Michy Batshuayi has helped Palace maintain their record of having scored in every outing since the turn of the year.

That run spans a total of 13 matches, and Palace also make the trip to Vicarage Road having recorded three wins and a draw from their last four away games.

Palace will also been keen to avenge the defeat which they suffered in this fixture back in August, with second-half goals from Roberto Pereyra and Jose Holebas helping Watford to a 2-1 success.

Palace - like Watford - have reached this stage of the competition without conceding a goal with wins being registered over Grimsby Town, Tottenham Hotspur and Doncaster Rovers respectively.

Recent form: WLLWWW
Recent form (all competitions): DWWLWL


Team News

Troy Deeney celebrates scoring for Watford on December 22, 2018© Reuters

Gracia will recall the players who missed out on the first XI against City, with Gerard Deulofeu and Troy Deeney expected to lead the line for Watford.

Adrian Mariappa, Craig Cathcart, Holebas, Will Hughes and Pereyra were also rested, but they should all be named in the starting lineup this week.

Hodgson is unlikely to make major changes to his team, but the Eagles boss must decide who to select in goal with Wayne Hennessey likely to be available.

Cheikhou Kouyate is in contention for a recall in midfield, while Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend are expected to provide support for Batshuayi in attack.

Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Janmaat, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas; Doucoure, Capoue; Hughes, Pereyra; Deulofeu, Deeney

Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Dann, Van Aanholt; McArthur, Milivojevic, Schlupp; Townsend, Batshuayi, Zaha


Head To Head

Saturday's meeting will represent the 120th competitive encounter between the two clubs, with Palace claiming 49 victories in comparison to 43 wins for Watford.

Watford are unbeaten in the last three Premier League fixtures, but Palace may hold an edge having prevailed in two important fixtures since May 2013.

Palace emerged victorious by a 1-0 scoreline in the Championship playoff final, and they also defeated Watford by a 2-1 scoreline in the 2016 FA Cup semi-finals.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Watford 2-1 Crystal Palace

Both sides head into this game on the back of a defeat, but we are backing the Hornets to edge a close contest with a late goal to book their place in next month's semi-finals.


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Who will win Saturday's FA Cup tie between Watford and Crystal Palace?

Watford
Crystal Palace
Watford
33.3%
Crystal Palace
66.7%
Watford's Gerard Deulofeu inflicts misery on Cardiff City hearts on February 22, 2019
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool31237170185276
2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
12Bournemouth31115154356-1338
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914

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