After Watford maintained their perfect start to the season last week against Burnley, it’s time for Vicarage Road to stage what I believe to be their toughest test so far on Sunday, against a Crystal Palace side coming off the back of a disappointing result against Liverpool.
Javi Gracia’s side’s quality second half performance against Burnley will leave them beaming with confidence in a game that has never failed to disappoint in the past. Watford are looking to achieve a new feat in winning all three opening fixtures for the first time in the top division, something only a fool would dream of back in the Pozzo era’s first game in 2012 against Crystal Palace.
The Hornets go into the game with a strike force full of confidence with both Andre Gray and Troy Deeney netting last week, a midfield working in impressive unison controlling games and expressing themselves and a defence coming off the back of a resolute display. With the likes of Gerard Deulofeu and Nathanial Chalobah still to come back, the Hornets can go into the game with freedom and no pressure after getting some early points on the board. I predict a game full of chances with Watford’s midfield continuing to impress and the duo upfront regaining the confidence of the home crowd against a side without right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka after his late red card last week.
However, the ever theatrical, albeit quality, Wilfred Zaha will no doubt cause our defence all sorts of problems just like previous games in the past. The memories of Zaha tormenting Watford defences may be irrelevant now, but the scars of all the way back from the 2013 play-off final will be ever present in the Watford fans minds. Despite Craig Cathcart and Christian Kabasele’s good performance last week, I do not hold confidence in their ability to thwart an attack poles apart from what they faced at Turf Moor. The pace and power of Zaha in tandem with Christian Benteke is likely to breach the Hornets rear guard.
Overall, I believe this will be an open but closely contested match with plenty of chances. Both teams will get on the scoresheet with the points being shared between the two sides, likely finishing 2-2. One thing is for certain, this match will not be short of excitement and controversy.
Watford vs Crystal Palace kicks off at 1.30pm on Sunday 26 August at Vicarage Road and can be watched on Sky Sports.
Predicted line-up: Foster; Janmaat, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas; Doucoure, Hughes, Capoue; Pereyra; Gray, Deeney.