Play-Off Final: where the game will be won & lost
As we continue our build up to the play-off final here at Vital Watford, we turn our attentions to where the game will be won and lost; the key battles between the key men.
Matej Vydra v Danny Gabbidon & Damien Delaney
The Eagles' central defensive duo are both the wrong side of 30 and neither Danny Gabbidon (33) nor Damien Delaney (31) is blessed with pace, which should play nicely into the hands of top-scorer Matej Vydra.
Vydra is back in some kind of form after his stunning brace against Leicester City in the second leg of the play-off semi-finals and with his electric pace and sharpness in and around the penalty area, the Czech could cause problems.
Troy Deeney's role in this battle will be equally important, with the Golden Boys' big No.9 expected to take the pair on in the physical battle whilst Vydra uses his explosive pace to maximum effect.
In fact, Ian Holloway's side had kept just two clean sheets in their last 10 league outings before the back-to-back shut-outs against Brighton & Hove Albion in their semi-finals.
Daniel Pudil & Ikechi Anya v Wilfried Zaha & Yannick Bolasie
With top-scorer Glenn Murray out due to cruciate ligament damage, the spotlight will undoubtedly fall entirely on Wilfried Zaha, instead of mostly on the England international.
The one-cap England winger, on-loan from Manchester United, is not the only tricky wideman at Selhurst Park, and if selected, Yannick Bolasie has the ability to cause Watford problems on the opposing flank.
Defensively, Ikechi Anya has come on leaps and bounds this season and the Granada loanee will be tasked with keeping pace with whichever of the south Londoner's wingers is attacking him.
For Daniel Pudil, the challenge will be balancing his defensive and offensive responsibilities. The Czech is good going forward but sometimes reluctant to get back and that could be cause for concern.
Gianfrano Zola could elect to start with Matthew Briggs to counteract the athleticism of Zaha in particular, but the Fulham loanee showed his defensive 'credentials' against Burnley and Leicester.
Jonathan Hogg/Cristian Battocchio v Jonathan Williams
Whichever one of the Hornet's two combative midfielders is selected - and we're predicting Jonthan Hogg - they will be tasked with keeping Welsh international Jonathan Williams quiet.
The diminutive playmaker has only made 11 starts this term, but having started both legs of the semi-finals, he looks to be in favor ahead of the final.
Whoever is selected out of Hogg and Cristian Battocchio will be expectgd to nullify the creative threat of Williams at the top of the Eagles' midfield by breaking up the play and starting the attack for Watford - a big responsibility.
Where do you see the game being won & lost? Let us know by commenting below!
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