Eye On The Opposition: Watford vs Crystal Palace (21/4/2018)

Written by Jack Pierce

As another season draws to a close, Watford fans are looking at the campaign with a sense pride and bewilderment. Yes, they've effectively guaranteed their status in the top flight for the 2018/19 season but what progress is there to see on the pitch?

Another managerial change despite an excellent start to the campaign, the arrival of a fair few new players who will likely be moved on this summer and some of the most abject performances imaginable as the season draws to a close just about sums it up. Palace head to Hertfordshire on the back of perhaps the most important win of the season and in great confidence.

Add to that the excellent record the club has at Vicarage Road and many see this as the perfect opportunity to secure top flight football for The Eagles three games before the end of the season. Javi Gracia, who arrived halfway through the season after Marco Silva was relieved of his duties, has steadied the ship and done just about enough to guide his side safe provided the bottom three don't go on an incredible run.

Results since his arrival haven't been anything to write home about but it looks as though the two wins against Everton and West Brom nearly two months ago will be the difference in The Hornets staying up. Without either of those victories, nerves might be more evident than they are. A Palace win will see us leapfrog Watford but that won't see them dragged into the mire.

As for Gracia's future, there's no clear indication as to whether he'll be in post come August. The board's no-nonsense approach to managerial appointments is no secret and the Spaniard won't have taken the job without knowing his future wasn't exactly secure and it may already be agreed that he'll be asked to move on.

A decent return from the fixtures against us, Spurs, Newcastle and Manchester United might secure him some more time but with these owners, it's easier to not speculate. Player wise, new ones will arrive in line with the club's relatively successful recruitment policy but it'll be the keeping of some of their more impressive performers that'll be the focus for the fans.

Both Richarlison and Abdoulaye Doucoure have had very good, if not consistent, campaigns and there are murmurs that both are on shopping lists of clubs above them in the league standings. A significant bid for either is likely to be of interest to board particularly given the scope of large profits to be made on both.

This really is a fantastic opportunity for Roy Hodgson and Palace to take a huge step towards securing top flight status in view of Watford's relatively poor second half to the season. There are no easy games in the Premier League but if Palace perform to their best, it should be enough to see off this stuttering Watford side.

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