Crystal Palace 1-0 Watford
- Goals: Jordan Ayew (£5.1m)
- Assists: James McArthur (£5.2m)
- Bonus Points: Vicente Guaita x3 (£5.1m), Scott Dann x2 (£4.3m), Ayew x1
Crystal Palace’s run of clean sheets continued to a third successive game as they emerged 1-0 winners over Watford on Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles held off a spirited Hornets side in the opening period before going ahead and surviving what descended into something of a scrappy encounter in the second.
That goal, which proved to be the winner, was scored by budget forward Jordan Ayew (£5.1m), who now has attacking returns in each of Palace’s last three matches.
With some consistency building for the former Swansea City man, he might even be in time to convince Fantasy managers he is worth owning for Blank Gameweek 31, considering Liverpool’s recent defensive problems.
Ayew looks set to hold down his place in the Crystal Palace team based purely on form, although competition for the centre-forward role has been recently decreased by a long-term injury to Cenk Tosun (£5.7m).
“We signed (Ayew) in the summer, but we paid money to loan him last season, and he has shown his worth. I think he has got stronger, and we saw signs last season, but I am delighted for him.” – Roy Hodgson
Ayew looks more likely to warrant investment in the next few weeks than Palace’s defence, even if it has performed well.
The Eagles do have Bournemouth (away) and Burnley (home) in two of the next three Gameweeks but they must also face Liverpool (away), Leicester (away) and Chelsea (home) in their next five.
It will still be interesting to see how Palace do in that spell though, as, since Scott Dann (£4.3m) was installed as Gary Cahill‘s (£4.4m) centre-back partner in Gameweek 27, they are yet to concede.
This match will have also served as another scouting opportunity for Watford assets ahead of their involvement in Blank Gameweek 31, an away trip to Burnley.
However, the Hornets were unable to build on that hugely impressive win over Liverpool and were unable to carve open too many clear cut chances against a well-organised Palace defence.
“We played against a side which is happy to defend with a bit of depth, it’s never an easy game coming here and our quality with the final pass sometimes was the problem. Our set-play delivery, when we had opportunities, later on, that was something we needed to be better at.” – Nigel Pearson
Not surprisingly, Ismaïla Sarr (£6.3m) was the driving force for Watford, used as the main outlet for attacks but on this occasion, he was not afforded as much space as he was against Liverpool.
While the Senegalese international’s delivery was very good, Cahill and Dann had the defence organised well enough to crowd out the intended targets.
Meanwhile, it was clear that Watford were lacking the drive and penetration of Gerard Deulofeu (£6.1m) on the left-hand side, Roberto Pereyra (£5.6m) unable to replicate the Spaniard’s abilities. That, in turn, had something of an adverse effect on Sarr, as Watford’s play became more focussed through him, they were arguably more predictable.
That said, there was enough spirit shown by Nigel Pearson’s men in the early stage of the game to warrant continued inclusion in Fantasy squads, especially with that Blank Gameweek 31 fixture coming up.
“We’ve had good spells of pressure and haven’t made the most of it, but we’ll bounce back because our players here are honest and committed. I think we played pretty well, and it was a missed opportunity in many ways today because of our inability to be decisive in front of goal. I thought we played pretty well and had chances in the first half, in particular, to go ahead.” – Nigel Pearson
Meanwhile, despite failing to keep a clean sheet, Watford did do a relatively decent job of keeping Crystal Palace quiet.
As already mentioned, this was a tight and scrappy game, which probably suited the defences of each team.
With Leicester struggling in attack of late, this performance might indicate that defensive returns against the Foxes are hardly off the cards, especially considering that Watford have the joint-highest number of home clean sheets this season.
Crystal Palace XI (4-3-3): Guaita; Ward, Dann, Cahill, van Aanholt; McCarthy, McArthur (Milivojevic 70′), Kouyaté; Zaha, Benteke, Ayew.
Watford XI (4-2-3-1): Foster; Masina, Cathcart, Kabasele, Femenía; Hughes (A Gray 84′), Capoue, Pereyra (Pussetto 74′), Doucouré, Sarr; Deeney (Welbeck 74′).
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