Review by Nick Barker. Photos: ©Neil Everitt
Crystal Palace secured their third win in a row last Saturday at Selhurst Park.
It may not have been exactly the victory they wanted – in the end it came down to a silly Watford own goal – but a win is still a win.
Despite the home advantage, Sam Allardyce’s squad were clearly shook by Aanholt’s absence. The defender is still currently recovering from an ankle injury.
The Eagles’ two previous victories, against Middlesbrough and West Brom, have certainly buoyed their chances this season. As this match showed, however, they still have a way to go.
The first half was more or less uneventful, with Crystal Palace barely edging Watford out in overall possession, but being unable to convert it into actual chances despite Townsend’s best efforts.
Cleverly’s challenge against Zaha, meanwhile, earned Palace a free kick at the 40 minute mark, but Britos was more than ready for it. Moments later, a second free kick – and a miss by Zaha. A counter attack by Watford came to nothing when an over-exuberant Behrami sent the ball screaming over the crossbar.
The second half continued in much the same fashion, with some great teamwork between Townsend and Zaha, though ultimately their best efforts came to nothing.
Then, after 68 goal-less minutes, a Crystal Palace free kick and a bumbling defence resulted in an own-goal by Deeney.
No doubt Watford fans were experiencing a disheartening sense of déjà vu. Back in 2015, Deeney had equalised against Man United, only to hand back victory right back to the Devils with another last-minute own goal.
Although Crystal Palace may not have directly secured their victory, they can take solace in the fact that Wilfried Zaha was the clear man of the match.
So here’s hoping he’ll manage to make proper fools out of John Terry and the rest of the Chelsea defence when they square off on April 1st!