Watford vs Crystal Palace
Venue: Vicarage Road
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Watford host their first London derby of the season, as they welcome Crystal Palace to Vicarage Road for a Sunday lunchtime clash in the capital. Can Watford win their third straight game or will it be the Hornets that ultimately get stung?
Both teams have enjoyed solid starts to the season. Crystal Palace having mixed fortunes in their two games, beating newly promoted Fulham 2-0 on the opening weekend but then losing by the same scoreline to Liverpool on Monday Night Football. The home side have had a flawless start to the campaign so far with two wins out of two; away to Burnley and at home to Brighton on the opening day.
Watford are currently sitting pretty inside the top four in the league, one of only six teams to go into the third round of fixtures with a 100% record. Last time that happened was in the 2007/08 Championship season, although they haven’t managed to win the opening three since 1998/99.
Palace should prove a sturdier opposition for the Hornets, having frustrated free-scoring Liverpool for most of the game, and especially with the recent record between the sides falling in the favour of the visitors. Watford haven’t picked up a win in their last five meetings with Palace, losing 3 of them and having failed to register a win over the Eagles at Vicarage Road since a 2-0 win in 2009.
Javi Gracia will be able to name an unchanged side for the third game in a row, as there are no new injury concerns in his squad. Those still missing include; Chalobah (knock), Cleverley (achilles), Deulofeu (knock), and Okaka (thigh).
One player that has been a highlight of the squad so far is definitely Roberto Pereyra. His two goals against Bournemouth helped cement his place as the replacement for Richarlison on the left-hand wing, especially as he’s only had four shots on goal.
A positive pattern that is emerging from the opening games, is that the attacking returns are being spread across the team. In the first game against Brighton, Pereyra and Holebas who took all the plaudits, whereas it was others like Hughes, Gray, and club captain Deeney who stepped up against Bournemouth. Watford are showing they are not a one-man-team.
The same could not really be said about opponents Crystal Palace. Roy will be looking to his talisman Wilfried Zaha to shine again, after having a reasonably quiet game against the Reds of Liverpool. Zaha has certainly not made many friends in Watford, mainly from him going down for the penalty that won the 2012/13 Championship Play-Off Final for the South Londoners. However, those are the times when Zaha tends to shine, when he can show off to a crowd that are booing his every touch.
The main impact on Roy Hodgson’s selection is the suspension for in form right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, after the red card on Monday night. Fortunately for the Palace manager, he has a ready and able replacement in Joel Ward, who will simply slot into that full-back position that was his last season.
With no injury scares, the rest of the team looks set to stay the same. New recruits Cheikhou Kouyaté and Max Meyer have made their debuts, albeit in substitute roles, but after two solid performances it would be hard to see Hodgson changing too much.
Predicted Starting XI’s:
Watford: Foster; Janmaat, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas; Doucouré, Capoue, Hughes, Pereyra; Deeney, Gray
Crystal Palace: Hennessey; Ward, Tomkins, Sakho, van Aanholt; Townsend, Milivojević, McArthur, Schlupp; Benteke, Zaha
Score Prediction: Watford 1 Crystal Palace 1
Both teams go into the game in good form. The recent record between them could come into effect, but it’s going to be super close. It will be whether Joel Ward can step up and match the industrial nature of Wan-Bissaka’s combination of attack and defence, because he’ll need to be on at his best to deal with a confidence filled Roberto Pereyra. That could be the telling duel as to who will walk away with the points.