Team News | Crystal Palace

Update, December 12, 9am 

Watford will be without defender Marvin Zeegelaar for the trip to Crystal Palace tonight, after the club's appeal against the red card showed to the Dutchman at Burnley was unsuccessful. 

Marco Silva will wait on the outcome of the club's appeal of Marvin Zeegelaar's sending off before naming what he anticipates being an otherwise unchanged squad for the trip to Crystal Palace.

The club lodged an appeal with the Football Association this morning in a bid to get the first-half red card shown to Zeegelaar overturned. The Dutch left-back faces a three-match ban should the appeal be unsuccessful.

Should Zeegelaar's red card be upheld, José Holebas looks poised to start at left-back for the first time since Everton away, and Molla Wagué looks set to come onto the bench. Miguel Britos and Kiko Femenía are struggling to make the match at Selhurst Park.

"We’ll try with them," said Silva. "Britos is more difficult to play tomorrow but we'll see what happens. Kiko is a matter of days. His injury is nothing special, he has some fatigue as well. We need to be 100 per cent sure they can play."

Zeegelaar will miss the Palace game if his red card is not overturned

Apart from that, Silva reports a clean bill of health from the players involved at Turf Moor on Saturday.

"Nothing new after the last match," said the Head Coach. "We are still in recovery with the players and we will work again today with them. We’ll see how they are but there is nothing special, no big problems."

Silva was asked by the press this morning about whether Richarlison needed a rest. The electrifying winger from Brazil has only missed 21 minutes of the last 15 league and cup games and arrived at Watford on the back of a full season for Fluminense. 
"We need to manage him if we feel he's too tired," said Silva. "He doesn’t look tired but he cannot play a high level every time. We expect a player with his skills to play at a high level all the time but it is not possible. We need to take care of him, as he’s 20 years old.

"It's not only him to solve the problems on the pitch. We need to solve the problems as a team, players like Deeney, Andre Gray, Carrillo and Pereyra need to take the decision and solve the problems for the team and take some pressures away."

Watch Silva's full pre-Palace press conference above - free to view, no sign-up required.


Opposition Focus | Crystal Palace

Palace fan Matt Woosnam, a freelance journalist who contributes regularly to the South London Press, tells us what we can expect from the Eagles tomorrow night. 

Are we coming to Selhurst Park to face a Palace side who have now hit a bit of form?

“We are doing well at the moment and are unbeaten in five, although we've only won one of those five games. It's been good, though, much better and we've played well. It's been functional football but it's got results.

“A few of the draws could and should have been all three points, like on Saturday and against Everton when Niasse dived for the Baines penalty. Had we got wins in those two we could be looking at a different league position. For all the talk of an unbeaten run, though, we are still bottom of the table.”

Just what were the reasons behind your nightmare start to the season?

"A lot of things have gone wrong. It's been a mixture of things. The main problem was that we tried to play a different type of football under De Boer and it just didn't work. He just wasn't the right manager at the right time in what was a transitional phase. Things just went horribly wrong and the 3-4-3 just didn't work. Part of that was down to the recruitment, there is no getting away from that.

“The failure to bring in another striker really hampered us, especially when Benteke got injured. It showed the squad was really weak outside the starting XI and that we had no strength in depth.”

Can you do it? Can you start the season with seven straight defeats and yet perform an escape act?

“If you asked me a month or so ago I would have said we were certain to go down. Even though we are still at the bottom, there is a feeling we can get out of it. We are five unbeaten and January is just around the corner and reinforcements are on their way. Another striker is a must. I am confident we can do it.”

You must be kicking yourselves that you didn't get three points on Saturday. Why didn't Luka Milivojevic take the penalty instead of Christian Benteke?

“Milivojević is the penalty taker and scored the first one on but Benteke was on a run of 11 games without a goal and, for some reason, he saw that as the chance to break his duck. The penalty was at the other end to me and it looked like Milivojević was lining up to take it.

“The crowd were certainly singing his name. There was even booing before Benteke took it, so the fans clearly didn't agree with who was taking it. It summed things up for Benteke who has just not been hitting the heights this season, although he has been injured. Last season he got 17 goals.”

You could tell Roy Hodgson wasn't happy about the penalty miss. Overall, the former England boss seems to have had a real positive impact...

“He's done well to steady the ship. He has switched to a 4-4-2 and got Zaha and Benteke playing up front. It's working so he must be doing something right. He's got us scoring, which is a start as we went seven games without a goal.

“Palace have scored two goals in each of the last four home games so they are quite entertaining. They just need to tighten up at the back.”

Roy has got Ray Lewington as his trusted No.2 and he's is fondly remembered in these parts for the job he did as our manager. Is Ray's influence stamped all over this re-energised team? 

“It's hard to say as it's not clear what his area of speciality is but he's always been part of Roy's recent coaching staffs and he clearly has a lot of expertise and nous to impart on the team. Whatever is going on the training ground is getting a positive reaction.

“The big thing they have done is change the formation to four at the back and played traditional full-backs to wing backs. The goals they are conceding are down to individual mistakes rather than tactical errors, so they just need to cut those out. Hodgson and Lewington have created a strong foundation.”

We were thrilled to get Nathaniel Chalobah from Chelsea. You managed to get Ruben Loftus-Cheek from Stamford Bridge, albeit on loan, and he looked really promising on his debut for England...

“To begin with he had a really good impact for us. He was doing the business and you wondered what Chelsea were doing not giving him a chance. Then he got injured and had the England call-up and he's not been quite the same since.

“It's not helped that he was moved out wide. He's not a wide midfielder or a winger and he looks much better in the centre. He's a real talent when he plays there. Playing him out wide nullifies him.”

What's the injury situation like?

“Sakho got injured on Saturday. He tried to be a bit too clever and over stretched so I think he'll be out for a few weeks. But we've now got Scott Dann back. He'd been out for a few weeks but he came on for Sakho on Saturday after just 25 minutes.

“Joel Ward had been doing really well but he picked up an injury against West Brom. He might be back for Tuesday. James Tomkins looked in a bit of trouble on Saturday so the fear is he might be carrying a knock. If he's out then Martin Kelly will come in and play.”

Give us an idea of how you expect Palace to line up.

Speroni; Fosu-Mensa, Dann, Tomkins, Schlupp; Townsend, Cabaye, Milivojevic, Loftus-Cheek; Benteke, Zaha

What have you made of our start to the season?

“I've been really impressed. Marco Silva has come in and done a really good job. Not only that but you seem to be playing really good football, too. Richarlison has been the best player from bits I've seen and has a bit of Zaha about him, but the main thing is you have a good squad with a good mixture of talented players and hard workers. To be in the position you are is no mean feat.”

And, finally, are we tip-toeing into must-win territory for you yet or is it a bit early for that?

“It's not a massive game but it's important we get something out of it. We've gone five unbeaten and we need to build on that but it won't be an easy game what with you doing really well. It should be a really interesting game and if Palace can pick up three points it would give the team real confidence.”