Watford vs Crystal Palace- Two Teams That Need Desperate Work

Watford vs Crystal Palace- Two Teams That Need Desperate Work
Dec 29, 2016

Crystal Palace Featured Watford

After visiting Vicarage Road for the first ever time on Boxing Day, I was treated to a match short on quality but full of entertainment, summed up by Harry the Hornet (Watford’s mascot) diving infront of Wilfred Zaha at full time, leading Big Sam to say in his post match interview that the mascot was out of order! This game swung in both sides favour in the first and second half, with the drama on the pitch constantly causing me and all those who made the journey out on a bitterly cold day, to sit on the edge of our seats for the full 90 minutes. Perhaps the reason why the match was so entertaining was because of how bad both sides were and how these weaknesses were exploited by both sides. However, there was one man who stood out on that pitch for me and it was the little French magician, Yohan Cabaye.


After only about 5 minutes, I said to my mate who was sitting next to me, “Watch Cabaye’s runs, no-ones tracking him.” Usually it’s Cayabe who sits back alongside the holding midfielder, in this case Flamini, whilst Jason Puncheon occupies the no 10 role behind the striker. Even though Puncheon would take up the attacking midfield role when Palace where out of posssession, when they broke forward, Cabaye would switch with Puncheon. It was the Frenchman’s movement when pushing forward and finding gaps just in front of the Watford and behind the midfield which Capoue and Guédioura couldn’t handle with. His day was capped with a well taken goal on the 26th minute, with the ex Newcastle and PSG player effortlessly gliding in behind the Watford back three and slotting past Gomes. After this goal and then in the second half, Palace sat back under Big Sam’s instructions which limited Cabaye’s involvement and presence however, his performance in the first half easily made him the best player on the pitch in a match which lacked quality.

This lack of quality was never going to be resolved especially by Watford with the Hertfordshire side the worst team out of the two on the day. Troy Deeney’s 100th Watford goal was the first shot on target by the Hornets after 70 minutes of play. Watford seemed to play aimless balls forward towards Deeney which Ighalo would look to get on the end of however this was too easy to defend against considering Scott Dann is one of the best headers of a ball in the Premier League. This hoof football wouldn’t have seemed out of place in League Two at my beloved Barnet FC. Although Watford did push forward and seemed rejuvenated in the second half, I felt Palace going defensive and allowing Watford to move up the pitch was the main cause of this. On another positive note for Palace and not so much for Watford, Wilfred Zaha made Zuniga look like he was playing on ice in the first half, with Watford’s first 45 minutes one of the worst performances i’ve seen from a premier league side in a long time.

Credit to Watford for never giving up and their second half display did warrant a draw come full time however, both sides have much to work on. For Big Sam, a point away from home after being in charge for only 2 days won’t be sniffed at but his main concern will be how Palace failed to control the second half, considering they were dominating Watford for much of the match. Benteke’s penalty miss will also raise eyebrows with the Belgian having missed one already this term against West Ham but overall, Benteke’s performance upfront will please Big Sam after he led the line superbly linking with Zaha, Townsend and Cabaye throughout. For Walter Mazzarri, he should be the more concerned out of the two manangers. It should have been the Palace players who were confused after not knowing Big Sam’s tactics inside out but instead, it was the Watford players who looked like headless chickens. The play was slow and often was played back or hoofed forward with very little intricate, incisive play seen over the 90 minutes. A point after such a poor performances though shows signs of strength and means another step closer to their survival for another year but Mazzarri needs to work on Watford’s creativity if they’re to push on and challenge the bigger teams in the division.

A thoroughly enjoyable game and a fantastic first time visit to Watford FC, get yourself down to Vicarage Road if you can!



Featured Image: (Richard Heathcote; Getty Images Europe- 25 December 2016)

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