Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Friday February 17 2012
WATFORD HEAD to South London to face Dougie Freedman's Carling Cup semi-finalists this Saturday.
Crystal Palace had enjoyed an excellent start to the season but have begun to seriously falter since late November and currently find themselves in 14th.
The Eagles big problem has been goals and with top-scorer Glenn Murray on just five, Freedman's men are averaging a goal a game.
Watford, just a place and six-goal swing below the Eagles are averaging 1.2, which puts into perspective the problem facing Freedman.
What got the Eagles flying early-on was their home form, just two defeats all season at Selhurst Park (but eight draws to boot), suggest a strong backline coupled with that equally blunt spearhead.
The recent Carling Cup semi-final defeat to Cardiff City on penalties was heartbreaking for the Eagles who have subsequently drawn their next three games.
Whether or not Palace can get over their Carling Cup hangover will dictate where the eventually end up this season.
January saw four arrivals, two on loan and two youngsters arriving on a permanent basis.
Freedman has been keen to continue the theme of bringing through young players and that has been clear in his January business.
Defenders John Egan and Mustafa Dumbuya arrived on loan from Sunderland and Doncaster Rovers respectively bolster the backline.
Arriving from the non-league was former Dulwich Hamlet centre-back Michael Chambers. The young defender shone in the non-leagues and was linked with a move to Manchester United before electing to stay local and sign for the Eagles.
Also signed in January was Margate hotshot, Kwesi Appiah. Formerly of Peterborough, the explosive forward was linked with Watford and Blackpool before electing to join Palace.
Not that there aren't any experienced heads in the squad and the likes of Darren Ambrose, Paddy McCarthy, Anthony Gardner and Glenn Murray all provide plenty of experience.
Sean Dyche will be delighted to select Lloyd Doyley once more after the defender saw his appeal for wrongful dismissal upheld.
Striker Troy Deeney and Sean Murray are both 'doubtful', meaning Mark Yeates could come in for the young midfielder.
Martin Taylor and Stephen McGinn are both out.
Crystal Palace: Speroni; Clyne, McCarthy (c), Gardner, Parr; Ambrose, Jedinak, Dikgacoi; Zaha, Easter, Martin.
Watford: Loach; Hodson, Mariappa, Nosworthy, Doyley; Yeates, Eustace (c), Hogg, Kacaniklic; Garner & Iwelumo.
Match Officials: (R) Mr C Pawson; (ARs) Mr A Hopkin & Mr R Whitton; (4th) Mr P Kelly.
Date:Friday February 17 2012
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