After a decent start to the season, Watford have failed to find consistency heading into the business end of the season. Javi Gracia’s side have slipped to 12th in the points table, having picked up just a point from their last five league games. They are fresh off back to back losses to Huddersfield Town and Burnley and will have to quickly arrest the slump, to end the season on a high.
They have a decent chance of doing so this weekend, when they welcome Crystal Palace to Vicarage Road, in a mid-table clash. The Eagles, who have just three points less than Watford, are currently in the 16th place in the points table and are fresh from a victory over Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend. Palace are a side slowly finding some form but Watford have a seriously talented squad and with both teams not ready to settle for anything less than three points, they are expected to produce a fierce affair. A win in this game can take Palace level with Watford while the Hornets can move a step further towards the top half of the table. Here is the predicted lineup Gracia might field for this tie.
In early team news, Tom Cleverly, Nathaniel Chalobah, Younes Kaboul and Gerard Deulofeu remain long-term absentees for Watford ahead of this game. Jose Holebas and Andre Carrillo are well on their way to full recovery but will undergo late fitness tests ahead of this game.
Expected lineup (4-2-3-1):
Orestis Karnezis is now the first choice for Gracia under the bar and he should stick with him for this weekend as well. With Holebas still not fully fit, Adrian Mariappa will continue at left-back while Daryl Janmaat will continue at right-back in a traditional four-man backline for Watford.
Sebastian Prödl has been a regular in the first team at the back and will continue at CB. He could be partnered with Craig Cathcart, who needs to put in a better performance than he did in the previous game.
Watford have stuck with Etienne Capoue and Abdoulaye Doucoure as their midfield partnership and they will be crucial to the side’s chances of stealing all three points.
While Troy Deeney remains their best option to lead the attack, Roberto Pereyra, who had a tough time against Huddersfield will start on the left wing while Kiko Femenia, who did not last the whole match last weekend, will start on the right flank in the attack.
Will Hughes was used in a no.10 role in that game but it might be time for Gracia to start Richarlison, who only came on as a sub in the last two games.
Here is how they might line up: