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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Crystal Palace look ready to burst Watford's bubble

Unbeaten Hornets face far tougher test

Palace put in a decent performance in defeat to Liverpool
1 of 1

Sky Sports Premier League, 1.30pm Sunday

Watford, contrary to many people’s expectations, are off to a flyer but their bogey side Crystal Palace can stop them in their tracks.

The Hornets won just one of their last nine league games of 2017-18 and a pre-season flood of cash for them to be relegated indicated that many punters believed the nosedive hadn’t finished.

Opening wins over Brighton and Burnley have probably surprised their own fans as much as anyone else, although Palace ought to represent a step up in class on those two and Roy Hodgson’s men appear quite capable of landing the odds at Vicarage Road.

Palace should be looking forward to playing there given they haven’t lost at Watford since 2009, a run of seven matches unbeaten.

And the Eagles are also going well. While Watford finished last season terribly Palace signed off in some style, and they have carried on where they left off.

Excellent in seeing off Fulham in their opener, they also gave a decent account of themselves against Liverpool on Monday night. They lost 2-0 and the visitors were unquestionably the better side but Palace showed plenty of resolve and offered threats from all round the park.

James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho were given the ultimate test by Mo Salah and pals but they should find Troy Deeney and Andre Gray far more to their liking.

They’ll miss classy young right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka because he offers so much going forward as well as defensively but it’s that pace out wide that makes Palace them such a threat against a side such as Watford.

Wilf Zaha, booked for diving and taunted by home mascot Harry the Hornet on a previous visit, looked super-sharp against Trent Alexander-Arnold so could have a field day against Daryl Janmaat. Palace have weapons galore on the counter-attack.

What they lack is a centre-forward who regularly scores goals. Christian Benteke may be a handful but being a handful isn’t his main mission, it’s scoring goals and he seems to have forgotten how to do it.

His understudy Alexander Sorloth looks even less of a danger and at least Benteke will be a menace at set-plays, which is another advantage for the visitors.

Don’t expect a glut of goals in this one. It was 0-0 when they met at this venue in April and while Watford have scored five goals in two games, that doesn't tell the whole story.

They beat Brighton 2-0 – Albion have taken four points out of the last 42 on the road – and then won 3-1 at a Burnley side who looked out on their feet three days after going to extra-time in a Europa League tie.

Under 2.5 goals is rightly odds-on and less attractive than an interest on Palace to win to nil at 4-1. But there’s no need to get greedy, Palace to win the match looks a perfectly good bet.

Crystal Palace
1pt 2-1 general

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Team news
Nathaniel Chalobah and Gerard Deulofeu are still out.

Crystal Palace
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is suspended. Pape Souare is a doubt. Scott Dann is back in training after a long-term injury.

Key stat
Watford have not won any of their last seven home league games against Palace.

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While Watford finished last season terribly Palace signed off in some style
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