Five Things We Learnt From The Draw At Watford
A game with no goals suggests that there is very little to talk about or even find out, but here is what we learnt from the point at Watford.
1. Wilfried Zaha’s reputation precedes him. It is no secret that the Palace winger can be prone to going down easily, but the mythical idea that he is a diver creates farcical situations like the one on Saturday. Wilf rightly had one appeal turned down in the first half, but the reaction of the home crowd coupled with the behaviour of Abdoulaye Doucouré undoubtedly influenced Chris Kavanagh’s decision to book the Ivorian for simulation, when he had clearly been caught by Adrian Mariappa. Having to defend Zaha against diving allegations is becoming tiresome, but incidents like those at Vicarage Road only serve to fuel the agenda against him.
2. James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho have made Palace hard to beat. The Eagles still have not lost a Premier League game that the two centre backs have started together, and like last year, both defenders are playing a key role in steering Palace towards safety. They were faced with a different proposition against Watford, who played two up front in an attempt to turn the game into an aerial battle, but it is testament to Tomkins and Sakho that even when Palace were under the cosh in the first half, the home side rarely threatened Wayne Hennessey’s goal.
3. Roy Hodgson was well within his right to name an unchanged side, but this game was crying out for a target man up front. Zaha and Andros Townsend have previously had joy against Watford in the wide areas, and playing them through the middle meant the Hornets’ towering defenders were able to prevent them from having an impact on the game. Playing Wilf and Andros as strikers might work against teams who press high, but Hodgson needs to be better at adapting the system for different opposition.
4. Joel Ward is a man under pressure. After a nervy return to the side against Brighton, the right back had a torrid time trying to deal with Roberto Pereyra, and was probably lucky not to be sent off towards the end. Coming back into the team after injury is always difficult, but Ward’s position is under added scrutiny because of the form of Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Palace fans were singing the youngster’s name in the first half, and while Hodgson has clearly picked Ward for his experience, it would not be too surprising to see Wan-Bissaka back in the side against Leicester City.
5. One more win does it. Palace might not even need that, but to secure safety after the nightmare start we endured would be some achievement by Hodgson and the players – that and a rather sorry indictment on the quality of some of the teams in the Premier League this season.