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Dec 7, 2019, 4:30:00 AM

Premier League: Watford, Palace battle for pride amidst injury crisis

Sportsbet.io previews Watford’s upcoming home fixture against Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

Watford, who appointed Nigel Pearson as their third manager for this term, put up an improved act against Leicester City and are poised to play with a confident resolve in their home fixture against Crystal Palace. The hosts eye a fourth consecutive win over the Eagles, across all competitions for the first time in history, although a formidable Palace could eventually spoil the party at Vicarage Road.

Crystal Palace, seventh in the Premier League, have won nine of their 16 away games in the league this year and are tipped to get the better of Watford in their yard. The Eagles have lost just once in eight trips to Vicarage Road and a victory will propel Palace into fifth place. Although the hosts are likely to grab a goal in the fixture, Palace are gunning for their third consecutive league win without conceding a goal for the first time since March 2017.

Head-to-Head

The clubs have met eight times in the Premier League, and it is even-steven between Watford and Crystal Palace, who have three wins each. The Hornets, however, won both the meetings last season and are aiming to hand the Eagles back-to-back away defeats for the first time since October 1961.

Key Battle

Jordan Ayew is Crystal Palace’ top scorer this term with four goals and is the odds-on favourite to open the scoring at Vicarage Road. The Ghanian striker has gone four games without a goal and head coach Roy Hogdson will pin his hopes on the 28-year-old to consolidate the Eagles’ fine start to the season, as they travel to Watford with plenty of first-team names on the treatment table.

As Crystal Palace are expected to go all guns blazing at Vicarage Road, Adrian Mariappa will be tasked with staging a defensive masterclass and keep the Eagles’ attack trident of Wilfred Zaha, Ayew and Andros Townsend at bay. Watford have kept just two clean sheets this term and 33-year-old Mariappa must inspire his defenders to be shrewd in letting the opposition attackers break past them.

Gamechanger

Crystal Palace’ Zaha will be the most threatening player on the left flank, given his tenacious runs and his ability to use this trickery to his advantage. The Ivorian attacker has two goals and an assist so far, and he is in line for an entertaining duel with Watford’s right-back Kiko Femenia. The Spanish defender has made 39 recoveries and won 43 duels in his 11 appearances this season and will be expected to shut down any attacking advances from Zaha to maintain Watford’s hopes of a third clean sheet of the campaign at Vicarage Road.

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Words: William Paul

Images: PA