Crystal Palace Preview - Home, Feb 1st
AFTER THE disappointment of defeat to League One outfit Brighton and Hove Albion in the F.A Cup it`s the turn of the Seagulls bitter rivals Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road.
Now under the stewardship of iconic former centre-forward Dougie Freedman, the Eagles are looking for a turnaround in form after sacking former Scotland boss George Burley else they may well pass the Albion by in 2010/11.
Freedman`s association with the South London outfit is a long one. After ten yearss at Selhurst Park as a player, scoring 95 league goals, the former Scottish cap has since turned his hand to coaching before becoming assistant manager under Paul Hart and now manager following Burley`s sacking.
The campaign started with false hope for Palace, 3-2 victors over Leicester City who have since soared up the table after their opening day defeat. A young man who scored that day, Wilfried Zaha is typical of Palace`s impressive youth policy but with time running out for the South Londoners to maintain their Championship status it`s the experienced heads such as loanees Anthony Gardner and Pablo Counago that are going to have to stand up and be counted. An improvement in form for last season`s top-scorer Darren Ambrose will also be crucial to any chances of survival that Palace retain.
Watford Team News: Having been fit enough for the bench against Brighton in the F.A Cup skipper John Eustace should be restored to the starting eleven following injury. Ross Jenkins will consequently drop down to the bench after a run in the first-team during the skipper`s absence.
Midfielder Don Cowie is still sidelined with a calf problem so Will Buckley`s partner in crime on the flanks should be Andros Townsend who was cup-tied on Saturday.
Rene Gilmartin and Lee Hodson should drop back down to the bench after replacing Scott Loach and Dale Bennett respectively, Troy Deeney will also be benched once more.
Likely Line-up: Loach; Mariappa (c), Bennett, Taylor, Doyley; Eustace (c); Buckley, McGinn, Townsend; Sordell and Graham.
Form Player - Martin Taylor: One of few consistencies against Brighton in the cup on Saturday, the powerful centre-back also showed a new-found attacking threat to his game, surging forward on several occasions to wreak havoc in the opposition half. When Martin Taylor plays well the Hornet`s look more assured at the back by far.
Home Form: Watford 3-0 Portsmouth, Watford 4-1 Hartlepool (FA Cup 3rd) and Watford 0-1 Brighton & H.A (F.A Cup 4th)
Head2Head Form: Watford 2-0 Crystal Palace (08/09), Crystal Palace 3-0 Watford, Watford ?-? Crystal Palace and Crystal Palace 3-2 Watford (10/11)
Crystal Palace Team News: James Vaughan recently returned on loan to Palace after a previous loan spell from Premier League Everton. He should once more be partnered by academy product Sean Scannell.
inteen year-old defender Matthew Parsons made his Eagles debut in the stalemate against Norwich and could well retain his place in Freedman`s starting eleven.
Crystal Palace Line-up Vs. Norwich City: Speroni; Clyne, McCarthy (c), Gardner, Wright; Ambrose, Danns, Marrow, Parsons; Scannell and Vaughan.
Key Player - Julian Speroni: The Argentinean 'keeper recently made his 200th appearance for the Eagles having first arrived at Selhurst Park in 2004 from Dundee. An agile and reliable stopper Speroni has been target of bigger clubs in his six years with the South London side but has remained loyal to Palace whilst managers and players come and go.
Away Form: Millwall 3-0 Crystal Palace, Coventry City 2-1 Crystal Palace (FA Cup) and Swansea City 3-0 Crystal Palace.
Officials: Referee: Mr K P STROUD; Assistants: B C Holderness and D K Rock; Fourth Official: M S Scholes
Odds: Watford 8/11 (BlueSq.) Draw 11/4 (BET365) Crystal Palace 4/1 (BET365)