3 games, 3 wins, 3 clean sheets. It looks like the Allardyce magic is well and truly taking effect at Crystal Palace, after another tight win.
Palace Go Marching On
Matches between Palace and Watford are usually a special occasion. Not because of the quality of football on show, far from it in fact. This fixture always invites scrappy football and controversy, and this match was no different. But under the helm of Sam Allardyce, Palace appear to have mastered the art of winning scrappy games.
Both teams were very happy to play physically, and in the end, Palace won this battle of fouls and barging, with the only goal of the match coming from Zaha baiting a foul from Watford's Prodl. This was a match which threatned to boil over into a fist fight at times, and referee Martin Atkninson did well to keep tempers down, for the most part.
But Allardyce and Palace won't care too much about the how. Relegation battles are a results focused business, and Palace earned themselves the best result possible, and it could not have been done without the wingers this game. Not least the two of them flying down either side, and generally making life hell for the Watford fullbacks. But the support they offered when defending was phenomenal, and a direct consequence of Allardyce's style.
This win puts Palace up into 16th Position on 28 points, ahead of Swansea by a single point. Allardyce said he wanted 38 points. With 10 games left, that might be possible.
Are Watford In Trouble
31 points with 10 games remaining, for most teams, that should be fine. Yet for Watford, it may not be quite so simple. The team have won just twice in the league this year, only Middlesbrough and Sunderland can boast worse than that, and those two teams currently occupy the bottom two places in the league. So what's gone wrong?
For a start, Mazzari hasn't selected the same starting eleven for subsequent matches. And rarely selects the same formation, often switching between a 3-man defense and a 4-man. Whilst this can be seen as trying to adapt to the opposition, it's not without it's risks, and maybe that is where Watford are suffering. Having to lineup each week differently to the lasts makes the players jobs even more difficult. The changes are hardly due to injury problems, with players often being rotated to the bench to accomodate the new formation, and may instead indicate Mazzari is struggling to find a formation he is happy with.
Watford are earning 1 point per game so far this year. Going off of that, they'd be in line to finish on 41 points this season, usually a safe amount. But as the Premier League likes to prove, time and time again. Anything can happen.
Location : Selhurst Park
Referee : Martin Atkinson
1 - 0
STARTING LINE UP
Just one change from the team that beat Middlesbrough last time out.
Van Aanholt, who suffered an ankle injury, is replaced by Jeffrey Schlupp.
Another changed lineup for Watford, as they look to stop their slump.
Holebas and Okaka make way for Cathcart and Jaanmat, as they hope to overload the midfield.
65th Minute- Milivojevic, you are a very lucky boy. He makes a very strong challenge on Niang, who crumbles like a sack of bricks. Whilst at first glance it looked strong but fair, further replays show that the Serbian was two footed and got away with it.
68th Minute- It's a wicked freekick, whipped in from the left hand side, and there is Troy Deeney at the near post to head it in. Shame it was in the wrong goal. It's Cabaye who took the freekick, and Deeney gets his clearing header all wrong, and glances it in a the near post. At the other end of the pitch, that would've been a great goal. 1-0 Palace, Deeney OG
81st Minute- Christian Benteke is a man short of confidence, and it shows. The striker is played in wonderfully by Zaha, and just has the keeper to beat. But he dallies around, and gives the Watford defence time to regroup.
Man Of The Match
He always gets a lot of stick in this matches against Watford, but Wilfried Zaha usually ends up on top by the end of the match, and today was no different. The winger was a menace all game and had a good battle with the Watford full backs, before winning the freekick which lead to the goal.
The run of nice games is over, and now Palace have the daunting task of going to the leaders Chelsea and be just the 3rd team in the bottom half of the table, to take away any points (after Swansea and Burnley).
Chelsea held off Stoke this weekend, to win 2-1.
Watford play another team in the relegation battle, this time hosting Sunderland.
Sunderland drew with Burnley this weekend.