The hosts are beginning to gain the recognition their early performances deserve after impressive triumphs over Swansea City and Newcastle United, while those who felt they would be vulnerable at the back have been proved emphatically wrong thus far as they are yet to concede a goal at Vicarage Road – a testament to the understanding that has quickly developed between centre-backs Craig Cathcart and Sebastian Prodl. Manager Quique Flores must now ensure that standards do not slip.
With Palace also having several powerful, attack-minded players, this promises to be an intriguing – and close – battle. But in Odion Ighalo, the Hornets have a forward in excellent form, with four goals showing that he has been far from fazed at making the step-up from the Championship. Strike partner Troy Deeney, who has hit the net with amazing consistency over the past three seasons, will be determined to open his account soon.
A succession of strong showings to start the campaign and a superlative away record in 2015 indicated that Crystal Palace will have come into their last outing at Tottenham very much expecting to take something, but they were below-par for long periods and deservedly emerged empty-handed, with manager Alan Pardew singling out a couple of key players for criticism. Wilfried Zaha was the main fall guy, seeing himself taken off at half-time.
While they were unlucky to hit the woodwork twice in the game, there was a general lack of quality which they will be intent on putting right here. Pardew’s decision to play without a recognised striker backfired, and although Fraizer Campbell made next to no impact in the second half at White Hart Lane, he will need somebody here to give Cathcart and Prodl a physical presence to deal with as well as the quality of delivery that the Eagles so often produce from wide areas.
Adlene Guedioura may feature for Watford, who are without injured defender Joel Ekstrand and suspended midfielder Valon Behrami.
The visitors have problems in central defence, with doubts over the fitness of Scott Dann and Damien Delaney. Striker Connor Wickham is out, but Joe Ledley should be available.