On the back of the encouraging hard-earned point last time out at Swansea, Palace will be looking to put their season back on track with a positive performance against Watford at home.
The first-half at the Liberty Stadium was a bit of a damage limitation exercise as the Swans dominated a lacklustre Palace, who were showing signs of the strains of a five match losing run. However, the second half was a distinct improvement following Scott Dann’s smartly taken goal and a more attacking formation of 4-4-2 maybe hinted at part of the reason for a change in fortune.
With Connor Wickham returning after suspension and Dwight Gayle on the verge of a return to fitness, our striking options are beginning to look more plentiful. Speaking of striking options, Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo have been a pretty potent pairing this season; as Watford have boldly stuck with their dual spearhead since August.This duo have been a success up until recently but the Hornets have stopped buzzing of late; failing to score in their last four. Even so, our defence must not relax against them.
Perhaps the most encouraging element of the Swansea performance was a full debut for youngster Hiram Boateng. Boateng looked composed and offered a real threat, never more so than when he picked up a ball outside the penalty area and shot just wide of the post. Boateng is the first Academy graduate in just over four years to make a first-team appearance and the hope is that we will now see more coming through the ranks. Ask any Palace fan and they’ll tell you that the difficuluty we face in blooding youngsters is one of the biggest downsides of competing in the top tier.
This is a meeting of two clubs who are desperate to get to the magical 40-point mark so they can start planning for another season in the Premier League. It would be good to see Palace go for this game with an urgency that has been lacking of late and a victory would really be a catalyst to push on to a positive climax for this year’s campaign. Maybe, with a bit more game time behind him, this is the moment that Emmanuel Adebayor shows us his undoubted talent has not been diminished in his year away from the spotlight.
Richard Foster is a freelance football writer and author, who is a regular features contributor for The Guardian. He also writes for Sabotage Times and a variety of Palace blogs and fanzines.
The revised paperback edition of his latest book The Agony The Ecstasy – A Comprehensive History of the Football League Play-Offs – is out now and available through usual bookshops, online & via Ockley Books – http://bit.ly/1SKsnfc.
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