Monday 26th Dec – 12.30 Sky Sports 1
As Christmas day passes and the realisation kicks in that you’ve eaten and drank too much, Boxing Day football is just the medicine as you lounge back for a feast of football action.
4 days ago, this lunchtime kick off wouldn’t of particularly perked the casuals interest however follow the recent sacking of Alan Pardew and recruitment of Sam Allardyce all within a few hours on Thursday, it adds an extra angle to this game as Allardyce once again starts a job to save a club in trouble.
I’m sure all the build up to this one will be all about the job at hand that faces ‘Big Sam’, but I think he has been in far worse situations than the one he will walk into at Palace.
To say Palace have underachieved this year would be an understatement. With the team they have, they should at minimum be a mid-table team, realistically a top 8 side. The fact they have outscored every team outside of the top 5, including Man United, shows that with better team organisation and defensive stability, they should be able to shoot up the league in no time. Sam Allardyce brings vast experience in that area so is actually a very shrewd appointment.
Watford lost 2 of their 3 meetings against Crystal Palace last season, including a 0-1 defeat at Vicarage Road in the league. The Hornets also haven’t won a top-flight league game on Boxing Day since 1986 so perhaps the footballing omens will be in Palaces’ favour.
Watford sit in 12th in the league after 17 games on 21 points, but are not in the best of form themselves having lost 4 of their last 5 league games.
Etienne Capoue is Watford’s top goal scorer this season as Troy Deeney looks to find a reprieve from his current barren spell. Deeney is currently on a run of 10 appearances without a goal for Watford. He hasn’t gone 11 successive games without a goal (in all comps) for the Hornets since October 2011. I’m sure he will be looking to get back amongst the goals to kick on into 2017.
For Crystal Palace their woes have been well documented over the past few days and weeks, only 1 league win in the last 11 games and only 6 league wins in the whole of 2016 pretty much sums it up.
But what they do have that most teams near the bottom of the league don’t is a top draw striker in Christian Benteke having already scored 8 league goals already this season. When you couple that with the fact that also have very good quality attacking midfielders such as Jason Puncheon and leading assister Wilfried Zaha, on their day Crystal Palace have shown they are capable of beating anybody. With the added incentive of a new manager to impress, I would put Palace down as marginal favourites. This could be negated by the lack of time Allardyce would have had with the players so far, but it all adds to the intrigue of this game.
By Michael Thatcher