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PREVIEW: “Very Different Teams”

Posted: Thu 07 Feb 2013
Author: Club Journalist

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Manuel Almunia thinks much has changed since Watford and Crystal Palace met on the opening day.

LOOKING forward to Friday’s npower Championship game with Crystal Palace, Spanish goalkeeper Manuel Almunia believes the Hornets' 3-2 win back in August will have very little bearing this time around.

A late Matej Vydra goal decided things that day, but Almunia believes both teams have progressed over the course of the season.

“The game at the start of the season won’t be a reference for us,” he said, speaking to the Watford Weekend Show on Hornets Player. 

“It was the start of the season, and they were still building their team, as were we. Those early games can sometimes be a lottery.

“We have two very different teams now. Both teams have grown over the season and we’re both in fantastic form, and this is an entirely different game than the fixture in August.”

Almunia, who made his League debut for Watford that day, is well aware of the threats posed by the Eagles, who sit one place and one point below the Golden Boys in the npower Championship table, but says the team won’t be drawn into focusing specifically in individuals. 

“Crystal Palace use the wings very well. They have good players on the wings and up front in Zaha and Murray and others. We understand their attacking threats, but it’s good for us as we can use our counter attacking game.

“We always play in the same way. They have some very good players, and we will prepare for that, but every team does. It’s better to analyse the team as a whole than to focus on individual players. We have to worry more on how we play, than the opposition.”

Despite Palace providing one of Watford’s major rivals for a top-six place, the former Arsenal man has come to realise that every match in England’s second tier is an examination of the Hornets' promotion pedigree.

“Bolton tested our credentials, Bristol City tested our credentials. Every game in this league is a test. 

“We have to approach each game in the same way. Every team deserves respect and Crystal Palace are having a good season, but you never know with the Championship.”