Eye on the Opposition - Watford (12/12/2017)

Written by Jack Pierce

Palace play a Watford side pushing for a top-ten position, with a manager they considered hiring. Here's Jack Pierce with his look at Tuesday's opponents.

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Marco Silva, a manager that was apparently a candidate for the Palace job in the summer, has mightily impressed since taking the Watford reins before the season started. You'd dare say that Silva may have chuckled to himself when seeing the Palace results of the first few months of the season if indeed he was overlooked for the position in SE25.

Silva has got a Watford side, who'd gone a few seasons without much of a particular identity or known playing style looking like a very good Premier League side. Clever business during the transfer window combined with a manager's insistence that the players adopt his approach in terms of tactics has Watford bidding for one of their highest league places since the days of Graham Turner, Luther Blissett and John Barnes.

Well organised at the back, a midfield capable of supporting at both ends of the pitch and an attack able to strike when provided the opportunity to do so, this is a decent Watford side. They may have offered a rather subdued performance at Turf Moor at the weekend but the red card that put The Hornets down to ten men will have limited what threat they will have been able to offer. Furthermore, there's no shame in losing to Burnley this season; another of this season's success stories.

Of the two, consecutive home fixtures we had scheduled, Bournemouth was certainly the likelier three points given league position and form but Christian Benteke's tepid penalty in the second minute of injury time on Saturday saw to it that we'd be stuck with just the one point. A win on Tuesday really is a must if morale is to keep up as we enter the busy festive period, particularly after the end to Saturday's match.

A final trip to Selhurst before Christmas seeing out lot earn three valuable points would be great. However, I think you, like I, would be going to Selhurst tomorrow night a little more comfortable had that penalty gone in.

Never easy, is it?

Key Players

Adrian Mariappa

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This season has been somewhat of an unexpected renaissance for the former Eagle. Having returned to Vicarage Road at the start of the last season, the defender found himself playing second fiddle but under Marco Silva, Mariappa has found himself a regular starter.

Very good for Palace under Tony Pulis, I felt it a pity that he became marginalised under Messrs Warnock and Pardew. His leaving of the club went under the radar and when the injuries started to mount, it became clear Mariappa's versatility across the back line hadn't been replaced.

Should get a warm welcome when his name is read out on Tuesday night.

Abdoulaye Doucoure

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A revelation so far this season, Doucoure has provided this impressive Watford side with its engine and has offered a goal threat from the start of the season too. He's notched five in the league so far this campaign.

Box to box is the name of his game and if allowed to run freely, he causes nightmares for opposing defences as he joins attacks late.


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Relatively unknown in the UK before signing from Fluminese, most may have assumed that this deal was one with an eye on the future. One man who didn't think that was Marco Silva who wasted no time in offering the Brazilian winger a chance to thrive in the Premier League.

He's impressed immediately and is already rumoured to be on the shopping lists of some of those higher up the table.

Happy to take a winger down the line or cut inside, Richarlison is capable using both feet and his speed should worry all full backs.