Crystal Palace go into their crucial Boxing Day fixture against Watford with a new outlook -- or at the very least a new manager. But what will they have to face at Vicarage Road? Here's Jack Pierce with a look at Watford.
I'm not saying Sam Allardyce hiding underneath your Christmas tree is the most pleasing thought and I definitely didn't have him on my Christmas list but it certainly makes the prospect of our trip to Hertfordshire a little more bearable than if the previous manager was still in charge.
Last Saturday was many people's last straw with Alan Pardew, if there were any straws left at all, that is. It wasn't the loss; most sides will lose to Chelsea this season but it was the air in and around the place as the faithful resigned themselves to the defeat by the 55th minute. The ground knew the game was over and deep down, I'm sure Pardew did too. Whatever he dreamt up, Antonio Conte and his side would have an answer for it.
Anyway, he's now gone and he of the Far East talking tour and wine pints is now our manager and the job he's got is clear. Tighten up at the back in order to give us a chance of picking up more points.
His first task is the trip to Vicarage Road, made earlier by the powers that be in television land, and it won't be an easy one if Watford's win against Everton a fortnight ago is anything to go by.
Ok, Everton were really poor but Walter Mazzarri's side came back from a goal down to earn an impressive three points despite Everton piling on pressure for the last ten minutes. This Watford side either clicks or it doesn't; there's no happy medium for them and that's something that Mazzarri knows will have to improve if his side are to be comfortable during the second half of the season.
They've got some very good players, Etienne Capoue and Roberto Perreya in particular, and in Troy Deeney, even if he's without a goal in over two months, Watford possess that on field figurehead that it could be claimed Palace lack.
If the aforementioned midfield pair are given time on the ball, they'll control the game. Perreya's arrival from Juventus in the summer highlighted the ambition the Pozzo family has for The Hornets and Watford are now certainly the jewel in the crown of their much discussed club portfolio. Capoue, who went off in the cup semi final last season after 20-odd minutes will be looking to have a slightly more positive impact on this game against Palace and the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Joe Ledley will need to press him if Palace are to curtail a more attacking approach the Frenchman has adopted under his new manager.
Deeney, as you're probably aware, currently sits on 99 club goals for Watford and has done so for a few months now. My Dad, an Evertonian, was convinced he'd score his 100th against them because, well just because but he didn't and it's now our turn to feel that the inevitable will come against us. Hopefully it's a consolation from the spot in the 91st minute when we're already three up.
A trip to Watford is, like we did last season, one we should be aiming to take three points from. Then again, I've said that about Turf Moor, The Liberty and The KCom in the last two months so I'll just keep quiet. The new manager bounce is a thing and if our new manager has been able to instil a greater defensive resolve in just one training session then, firstly he's a witch, and two, we should get something out of this as going forward, we've proven we will create and score.
Good luck to all those heading to the game and good luck to those who will be trying to watch the game between finishing the previous evening's game of Monopoly, picking at slices of ham and avoiding family rows.
Happy Christmas, all!