Watford v Crystal Palace: Javi Gracia looking for victory after five games without win
Last Updated: 21/04/18 3:11pm
Watford boss Javi Gracia is hoping for more luck for his side after a run of five games without a win.
The Hornets were beaten by an injury-time Tom Ince goal at Huddersfield last weekend, the second time in three games they have dropped points in the 90th minute, while they lost from a goal up against Burnley in the other.
"In the last five games football has been cruel to us," Gracia said. "We have had many positives from those matches.
"We made mistakes but we have had good performances and in this moment we are confident we will be able to get a better result from the next game and we are working with that mentality.
"We need to win the next game because my players need that reward."
His plans have been hampered by a number of players missing training as a result of a stomach bug, but named only Sebastian Prodl and Gerard Deulofeu among those absent.
Palace boss Roy Hodgson believes a six-point gap to the bottom three is no reason for the club to celebrate ahead of their visit to Vicarage Road.
The Eagles have picked up seven points from their last four games, beating Brighton on Saturday and only missing out on three points against Bournemouth the previous week thanks to a last-minute Josh King goal.
However, Hodgson knows better than most he cannot afford to take their position for granted, having mounted a great escape of his own with Fulham back in 2008.
"At Fulham we were so far divorced and won four of the last five. If Fulham can do that, why can't the other teams at the bottom? It's very foolish to start speculating in that way, 'All we need is...'," he said.
"Basically, all we need is four more good performances like the last few we've given, even in the defeats to Manchester United and Liverpool.
"The experienced or rookie manager suffers the same anxiety, stress, fears and worries that it might not go his and the club's way. I'm not sure the experience helps a great deal in that respect."
Prodl is expected to miss the game through the illness that has hit the Watford squad, with Deulofeu already sidelined by a long-term injury. Jose Holebas, who missed the Huddersfield visit last weekend with a back problem, is back in contention for a place in the Hornets' line-up.
Jeffrey Schlupp could return to the Palace squad, with no other fresh injury concerns for Roy Hodgson. Bakary Sako, Connor Wickham, Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon are all long-term absentees.
Watford are winless in their last six home meetings with Crystal Palace in all competitions (D3 L3), since a 2-0 Championship victory in February 2009.
Crystal Palace won the reverse of this fixture in December, despite trailing from the 3rd to the 89th minute in the match.
This will be the only Premier League match played on Saturday at 3pm - the last time that happened was on March 7, 2015 (QPR 1-2 Spurs).
Watford have lost four Premier League games this season thanks to goals conceded in the 90th minute or later, including their last match against Huddersfield - the most by a team in a single season in the competition's history.
Following his double against Brighton last time out, Wilfried Zaha became the third player to reach 20 Premier League goals for Crystal Palace, following Chris Armstrong (23) and Andrew Johnson (21).
Troy Deeney has been directly involved in seven Premier League goals this season (5 goals, 2 assists), with all but one of those coming at Vicarage Road (an assist at Swansea the exception).
The only three o'clock! Palace shouldn't be where they are. I know they had a nightmare start, but they've been unlucky in some games and it was a big result last week.
I think they've got a little bit too much for Watford, who have got nothing to play for. They've done their job, they've stayed up. I think it goes under the radar what Watford do. It's a small club with not the biggest of wage bills in the world, and they've stayed up very comfortably - they haven't even been in the relegation battle.
Thirty-seven points is ample. Southampton have to get 10 points from five games - Arsenal, Tottenham, Man United, Liverpool would be happy with that.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2 (17/2 with Sky Bet)