Watford manager Javi Gracia has admitted that his squad have been hit by a stomach bug over the last few days, throwing a spanner in the works for their preparations ahead of this weekend’s game against Crystal Palace.
Whilst the Hornets are already eight points clear of the drop zone with just four games left to play, a run of form which has seen them lose four out of their last five games has left their supporters worried about the climax to the 2017/18 season.
Although Gracia seems confident of every player recovering in time to play against the Eagles, it’s fair to say that he could have done without the added headache of a stomach virus working its way through the camp. Some neutrals may try to argue that Watford’s results matter little between now and May given their mid-table position but with the club’s owners well known for their haste in hiring and firing managers, the Spaniard will no doubt be hopeful of having a strong end to the campaign.
Following on from Southampton’s 0-0 draw with Leciester City last night, Roy Hodgson’s Palace side sit five points above them with just 12 points left to play for. With this in mind, it’s fair to assume that a victory at Vicarage Road this Saturday should go a hell of a long way towards securing their top flight status for another year, giving the players a huge incentive heading into the contest.
The Saints remaining games are against Bournemouth, Everton, Swansea and Manchester City respectively and whilst it would be foolish of me to predict the sort of points return they could expect from those fixtures, our comparatively straightforward run-in, coupled with the five point cushion we currently have over Mark Hughes’ men is a source of huge comfort.
In an ideal world, we’ll pounce on a Watford team who have been struggling for form and get the job done with minimal fuss on Saturday afternoon but as any regular watcher or Crystal Palace knows, we seldom do things the easy way.