Palace Preview - Home, 19th April
If Watford are to win promotion this season, then they need 9 points out of their last nine to stand a chance. Crystal Palace are the firmest challenge in their way. Blackpool are a decent side, but then if we can`t beat already relegated Scunthorpe, then perhaps the best thing would to be to drop out the play offs altogether rather than suffer Derby-esque humiliation.
Palace are on the charge, and once again, Neil Warnock strikes, it`s hard to look back on his career and find somewhere where he hasn`t been successful. Sheffield United and Notts County brought promotion, as did Scarborough, now Warnock could be on the verge of the quadruple. Our old friend Colin has galvanised the Eagles with his signings and in particular, Clint Hill.
The powerful former Oldham defender signed in a swap deal with Leon Cort, last years player of the year, but with Warnock`s ethos in full swing, Cort`s lack of scars and bookings paved the way for his exit from Selhurst Park. Hill has chipped in with a number of goals in his Selhurst Park career so far, and with loan signing Jose Fonte and skipper Mark Hudson.
Hudson is another player who has been galvanised by the arrival of Warnock, having spent much of the last three years sitting in the reserves, kicking his heels, Hudson has been awarded the captaincy after his consistent dislays at the heart of the defence. Though his marking of Dan Shittu was poor in the F.A Cup match earlier in the season. His contract expires at the end of the season, Stoke and others are interested, but he is happy to remain in South London.
Palace`s success has been as much down to Warnock`s methods and madness as his loan signings and youth protégées given their first team chance. John Bostock got his chance last year as the Hornets beat the Eagles, but since then, Lee Hills, Sean Scannell and Victor Moses have been the real success stories.
Of late, Moses has been getting his chance down the flank and the Doyley-Moses battle will be interesting. Having set-up Morrison for his goal at Preston last week, the Republic of Ireland international hailed his team-mates ability. Pace, power and directness mixed with an eye for goal has seen the 16 year-old notch up 6 league starts with a further four coming from the bench, his one goal, a priceless leveller at West Brom.
Competition for Moses comes in the form of Scott Sinclair and Kyel Reid, both on-loan from Premier League clubs, Chelsea and West Ham. Sinclair set the division on fire last year with a loan spell at Plymouth under Iain Holloway. A baptism of fire, continued when he signed on-loan for Neil Warnock. Signed by Charlton on-loan, Sinclair barely had a look-in during his month there, but under Neil Warnock, he`s re-found the feet which saw him score his first Chelsea goal and win the Community Shield as a playing substitute.
On the opposite flank to Sinclair could be Moses, but then there`s also the option of Tom Soares. One-time exciting youngster, now an integral part of the side, Soares can play down the right or down the middle, but will likely be down the right this weekend. Just 22, the former trainee has notched up over 121 league starts for the club, but just nine goals a poor return for an attacking midfielder. Powerful, pacey and with a creative brain between his ears, Soares is the epitomy of what Watford need.
Epitomy eh? Neil Warnock`s favourite word, here`s a fiver he mentions it tomorrow - "Watford are the epitomy of a physical team…" hmm…
Lee; Doyley, Bromby, Shittu, Sadler; Smith, Eustace, O`Toole, McAnuff; Priskin and Henderson.
Speroni; Halls, Fonte, Hudson, Hill; Soares, Watson, Derry, Moses; Scowcroft and Morrison.