The Crystal Palace fans were absolutely delighted in the Transfer Tavern last night after Southampton slumped to a miserable 0-0 draw against Leicester at the King Power Stadium.
The Eagles faithful propping up our bar have been fearing relegation for the majority of the season so far, but their 5 point advantage over 18th place Southampton with just 4 fixtures left to play is filling them with a renewed sense of optimism. However, football consistently reminds us that a lot can change in a very short space of time, so the supporters aren’t exactly counting their chickens just yet.
Palace travel to Vicarage Road tomorrow afternoon for a fixture which could almost guarantee their survival this season. If the Eagles record a victory against the Hornets then they will be just three points shy of the magic 40-point mark and, more significantly, 8 points clear of Southampton.
Roy Hodgson will be emphasising the importance of this fixture to his players in a bid to encourage them to move within touching distance of finishing their survival mission, but the former England boss will also play a crucial role in Palace’s performance with his team-selection. Palace have adopted a new strategy in the last fortnight due to injury problems at centre-forward which left Hodgson without a single recognised striker to chose from.
This selection dilemma forced Hodgson to deploy Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha together upfront – a decision which could ultimately prove to be the difference between relegation and survival this season. The aforementioned pairing have proven to be a menacing partnership for the club, and the quality of their performances have played an integral role in Palace’s improvement of late.
Palace’s result against Watford tomorrow afternoon depends on Hodgson’s team-selection. If he decides to restore Benteke to the starting line-up then his side will undoubtedly struggle for opportunities in the final-third, but if he continue to trust in Zaha and Townsend then they are likely to cause Watford’s defence all kinds of problems.
The dynamic pairing are in fantastic form right now, and if they continue to link-up with purpose and precision tomorrow afternoon then Palace will have a fantastic opportunity to secure their survival.
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