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Dec 7, 2019 at 3pm UK
Crystal Palace

Preview: Watford vs. Crystal Palace – prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Watford vs. Crystal Palace – prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Watford's meeting with Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday, including a prediction, team news and predicted lineups.

Watford meet Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road in the Premier League on Saturday with the Hornets in desperate need of three points.

The home side are rock bottom in the table and recently sacked their second manager of the season, while Palace are enjoying a wonderful start to the 2019-20 campaign under Roy Hodgson.

Match preview

Any team that goes through two managers by December, winning just one game from 15, looks almost certain to face the drop.

Indeed, since Gianfranco Zola departed in 2013, Watford's managerial policy has been one of productive transience, keeping things fresh with a new face in the dugout every season.

Following the end to Quique Sanchez Flores's second spell at Watford, however, there is a feeling that this strategy – like a rechargeable battery used over time – is starting to lose its potency.

With this notion in mind, it is no surprise that Watford's hierarchy have reportedly decided to turn towards an English manager – Paul Clement and Chris Hughton are favourites for the job – in an attempt to inject some badly-needed stability and long-term planning.

However, with almost half of the season gone, you get the impression that Watford, barring some miracle, are beyond saving from relegation, and will need to construct a new strategy in the Championship next summer.

The Eagles, on the other hand, find themselves on much surer footing under Hodgson, who has turned this Palace team into a remarkably robust unit capable of hurting teams home and away in equal measure.

Indeed, victories away at Manchester City and Manchester United in the past year, along with a recent draw against Arsenal, illustrate how this is a team predicated on not just acute organisation but also a sense of fearlessness.

After 15 games, Palace are on 21 points and find themselves sitting seventh in the table, ahead of Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal - a record that will delight Hodgson, whose primary task, as always, will be to reach 40 points.

However, as January approaches, Palace will once again have to address the question of Wilfried Zaha, who pushed hard for a move away over the summer and looks likely to seek a January transfer as well.

For now, though, the South London club will be expected to claim a further three points against a Watford side that seems to be there for the taking at this moment in time.

Recent Watford form: LLLWLL
Recent Crystal Palace form: DLLLWW

Team News

Craig Dawson has been ruled out for Watford due to a head injury, while former Manchester United duo Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley are definitely unavailable.

Sebastian Prodl and Daryl Janmaat both have long-term knee injuries that will not recover until next year, although Christian Kabasele should return for this game after battling with a thigh problem.

Jose Holebas has also ruled himself out of this game with an ankle injury.

For Palace, key defender Joel Ward misses out following a recent knee injury that looks likely to keep him sidelined until 2020.

Mamadou Sakho is suspended for this game, while Max Meyer, Gary Cahill and Scott Dann all have chances of making returns to action.

Full-back Patrick van Aanholt, however, looks set for a spell on the sidelines after picking up a thigh injury last week.

Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Masina; Capoue, Doucoure, Sarr, Hughes; Gray, Deeney

Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Kelly, Tomkins, Cahill, Schlupp; Miliojevic, Kouyate, McArthur, Townsend, Zaha; Ayew

We say: Watford 1-2 Crystal Palace

In front of their own supporters and already in survival mode, Watford will no doubt give a strong account of themselves against Palace and look likely to nick a goal.

However, over 90 minutes, the demons that have been plaguing this Watford side will shine through, which the likes of Zaha and Andros Townsend will gladly take advantage of.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting .. draw .. in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.R:data
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