The Watford View – Part 1
Not sure that anyone has looked ahead to the weekend yet, but Palace have a very important date with Watford so we had a chat with former Palace employee and Watford fan Charlotte Nash to get her thoughts on the season so far and the massive cup tie.
Q. How has the season been for Watford so far?
It has been a pretty good season so far, the team morale Javi has implemented really is remarkable. There were a lot of questions and doubts whether Gracia was right for the job but he has proven everyone wrong. The progression of the team in the last thirteen months is beyond what any of us could have dreamed. There is still a lot we can improve on, the two Bournemouth games highlight our inconsistency and how defensively we have a long way to go. Overall we are 8th in the Premier League, on course to finish with record points and in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. That is pretty amazing.
Q. What did you make of the league games between our teams this season?
When it comes to Watford versus Palace, they are hardly entertaining matches. I went to both fixtures this season and both were pretty dull with some nice movement and some uninspiring football. There was not much to separate the two teams, I would say some great saves from Ben Foster was the difference between us.
Q. What does the FA Cup mean to Watford fans?
The FA cup is the dream, right? Every season I hope for a good cup run. Nine times out of ten I see us crashing out to the likes of Chelsea in the early rounds but when we get on a run, the excitement around the club is priceless. I know there is a lot of debate around clubs not taking cup competitions seriously, we have rested players but Gracia seems to get it and has adapted his team for each opponent. I went to the Woking, Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers matches and you can feel the hope, the excitement and tension building. This is where the fans want to be.
Q. Is this match seen as a bit of a revenge mission for Watford considering the semi final a couple of seasons ago?
To be honest I have not thought about that match since. No-one likes to lose a semi final and I have seen Watford lose a couple but when the draw was made I did not relate the two matches.
I was in a unique situation in 2016, I was working for Palace so worked the pre-match then went and watched the game in the Watford end, Palace winning was bitter sweet.
For me the win is all about keeping the cup dream alive, being in the hat and making it to the semi finals, not getting revenge. The fixture is irrelevent, it is all about turning up and winning. That is what is important, regardless of the opponent.
Q. Who has been the stand out Watford player this season?
I guess Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra get the headlines for their brilliance, on their day they are a joy to watch. Etienne Capoue has got to be the most improved player (apart from that challenge on Wilfried Zaha), under Gracia he is a changed man. His partnership with Abdoulaye Doucoure in the middle has been vital to our success this season. Having said that, I think all Watford fans would agree that Ben Foster has been our stand out player. His form this season has been incredible, he has kept us in and won matches. He is just a brilliant man.
Q. Did Watford do the business they needed to in the transfer window? Which position needs desparate attention in the summer?
Our summer business was pretty spot on, we sold Richarlison for a crazy price, replaced him with Deulofeu and added strength in all other areas. We have picked up a lot of injuries this season and the depth in our squad has been relied on a lot which has shown where our weaknesses are.
I think we could do with another striker, Andre Gray has been out a lot of the season, Stefano Okaka is out on loan and I am not sure Issac Success is a footballer. I think we also need to strengthen our defence.
Q. If you could pick one Palace player for Watford to sign in the summer, who would it be and why?
It is a close one between Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Zaha.
Zaha gets into any team excluding Manchester City and Liverpool. He is fast, skillful, strong and determined but I would go for Wan-Bissaka as he would give us stability in defence but also add width in attack. Our wingers like to cut in and Wan-Bissaka would give us the pace and width to overlap on the right.
Q. Name a player from each side that you believe will be a threat in this game?
Michy Batshuayi, he has scored four goals in three against us. I think he will be brilliant for Palace and will score plenty.
Deulofeu and Pereyra on their day can cause a lot of trouble but I am going to go for Troy Deeney. At Selhurt he completely dominated in the air and that is saying something against Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins in defence. Deeney’s not an out and out striker anymore but he has adapted his game to suit the team which you have to give him credit for.
Q. Perhaps you could share your opinions on Palace this season?
It seems to have been an inconsistent season for Palace. Results against City, Wolves and Leicester shows the quality in the side but the home form has got to be a worry. I do not think there is any danger of relegation, Palace know how to dig deep and get the job done. The FA cup run and Premier League safety will gloss over some results and could potentially be a great season.
Q. Your prediction?
I am the biggest pessimist when it comes to Watford so I am going to say 2-1 to Palace. I think it will be a tight nervy match but I can see Palace having the edge.