MX23RW : Monday, November 19 18:30:34
Feb 13, 2016 at 3pm UK at ​Selhurst Park
Attendance: 24,564
Crystal Palace
1-2
Watford
FT

Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Watford

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's Premier League clash between Crystal Palace and Watford at Selhurst Park.

Crystal Palace will once again look to pick up their first league victory of 2016 when they host Watford at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The Eagles have dropped below the Hornets and into the bottom half of the table, although they would leapfrog their opponents again with a victory this weekend.


Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace's English manager Alan Pardew watches his players during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Newcastle United at Selhurst Park in south London on November 28, 2015© Getty Images

It was not too long ago that Crystal Palace were being mentioned as possible European contenders this season, with the Champions League even being whispered in some quarters.

After all, a 2-1 victory at Stoke City in their final match before Christmas took the Eagles level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and just three and four adrift of Manchester City and Arsenal respectively.

Alan Pardew will have known that top-four aspirations were perhaps overzealous, although he would not have been able to predict such a fall from grace for his side.

The win over the Potters remains their most recent Premier League triumph, with Palace now eight games without a victory in the top flight, scoring just three goals in that time to leave themselves equidistant between fifth place and the relegation zone.

It wasn't until last weekend that they picked up their first point of 2016, becoming the last team in England's top four divisions to claim a point this calendar year courtesy of a 1-1 draw with Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.

Scott Dann was the man to rescue the draw for Palace with his fifth goal of the season, and the Eagles have now scored more goals from defence than any other side in the Premier League.

It is a good job too, as none of Palace's recognised strikers has yet scored a goal from open play this season. Without the defence in such good goalscoring form, Palace could well be sucked into the relegation battle.

It is their away form which seems to be keeping them out of the mire so far, with only three teams having amassed fewer home points than Palace in the Premier League this season.

They play just one more home match against a team currently below them in the table this season, so that record may not improve much before the end of the campaign, and another defeat at Selhurst Park this weekend would see them fall to four home losses in a row for the first time in the top flight since 1998.

Recent form: LLLLLD
Recent form (all competitions): LLLWLD


Watford

Quique Flores manager of Watford celebrates his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Watford and Norwich City at Vicarage Road on December 5, 2015© Getty Images

In many ways, comparisons can be drawn between Crystal Palace and Watford since the festive period.

On the same weekend that the Eagles moved level with fourth place, Watford picked up a fourth straight victory and were just one point behind the Champions League places, raising questions of an even more improbable top-four challenge than that of Palace.

Just as with Palace, however, that looks like being as good as it gets for the Hornets this season. They have managed to pick up a win since Christmas, but only the one in their last eight league outings to see what was once a one-point gap grow to 14.

The main difference, of course, is that Watford would have gone into the season content to simply stay in the Premier League for a second year - something they have never achieved before.

The form book does not make great reading for Quique Flores right now, but this campaign has already surpassed all expectations, and the 10-point gap to the bottom three means that they can breathe easily. They are just seven points short of the magic 40-point mark with 13 games of the season remaining.

The main reason behind that has been the form of Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney, who between them are responsible for 20 of the club's 27 league goals this season. Ighalo himself has opened the scoring in a match on six occasions this term, a tally only Jamie Vardy can beat.

Deeney was left out of the starting XI at White Hart Lane last weekend as Watford drew a blank for the second match in a row, losing 1-0 to in-form Tottenham Hotspur, but the skipper is expected to be back for this weekend's game.

They may need him in order to end a goal drought away from home in the league that stretches back to Boxing Day, with Watford having lost their last three games on the road without scoring.

They had not lost back-to-back away games in the top-flight since 2007 before this current run, and with trips to Manchester United, West Ham United and Arsenal next up, this weekend may be their best chance to stop the rot.

Recent form: LLLWDL
Recent form (all competitions): LLWWDL


Team News

Dwight Gayle of Crystal Palace hits the post with a shot as Craig Cathcart of Watford challenges during the Barclays Premier League match between Watford and Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road on September 27, 2015© Getty Images

Pardew still has a lengthy injury list full of key players to contend with, but he could have Dwight Gayle back at his disposal should the striker pass a late fitness test.

Whether he would displace January signing Emmanuel Adebayor in the side remains to be seen, however, after the former Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City striker made his first Premier League start since November 2014 last weekend.

Bakary Sako (hamstring), Yannick Bolasie (hip) and Joe Ledley (quadriceps) are all a week or so away from returning, while Jason Puncheon is also expected to be unavailable this weekend due to a hamstring problem.

Watford are expected to welcome Deeney back into the starting lineup, which could see Almen Abdi drop out and Mario Suarez handed a second start for the club.

Miguel Britos suffered a dead leg against Spurs but should be fit to start again this weekend, while Tommie Hoban and Joel Ekstrand remain long-term absentees.

Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; Mutch, Jedinak, Zaha, Cabaye, Lee; Adebayor

Watford possible starting lineup:
Gomes; Nyom, Cathcart, Britos, Ake; Suarez, Watson, Capoue, Jurado; Deeney, Ighalo


Head To Head

Palace have dominated the recent meetings between these two sides, winning seven and losing just one of the last 10 in all competitions.

Watford's solitary victory in that time did come at Selhurst Park, however, as the Hornets scored twice in the final two minutes to steal a 3-2 win over the Eagles on their most recent visit.

The reverse fixture in September ended in a 1-0 victory for Palace, with Yohan Cabaye scoring the only goal of the game from the penalty spot at Vicarage Road.


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We say: Crystal Palace 1-1 Watford

Neither side are in great form coming into this match, and they both may be happy to simply stop the rot with a draw when it comes to their losing streaks at home and away respectively. It is likely to be a low-scoring affair - these two teams have conceded the fewest goals in the first half of Premier League games this season - and we can see it ending all square at Selhurst Park.


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Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Crystal Palace and Watford?

Crystal Palace
Draw
Watford
Crystal Palace
42.6%
Draw
31.3%
Watford
26.1%
Crystal Palace's English manager Alan Pardew shouts instructions to his players from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Crystal Palace at Goodison Park in Liverpool on December 7, 2015
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City1210203653132
2Liverpool129302351830
3Chelsea128402781928
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs1290320101027
5Arsenal1273226151124
6Bournemouth126242116520
7Watford126241714320
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd126242021-120
9Everton125431915419
10Leicester CityLeicester125251716117
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves124441213-116
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton124261318-514
13West Ham UnitedWest Ham123361418-412
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle12237915-69
15Burnley122371225-139
16Crystal Palace12228817-98
17Southampton12156821-138
18Cardiff CityCardiff122281125-148
19Huddersfield TownHuddersfield12147622-167
20Fulham121291131-205

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