Watford vs Crystal Palace preview: Roy Hodgson hails Wilfried Zaha ahead of FA Cup quarter-final
Last Updated: 16/03/19 7:19am
Roy Hodgson has compared Wilfried Zaha's influence on Crystal Palace to Troy Deeney's at Watford ahead of the FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday.
Zaha has returned to his best form since moving back to his preferred wide position, scoring five goals in his last six games while Deeney has played an integral role in helping the Hornets rise to eighth in the Premier League this season.
Zaha scored a consolation goal for Palace in Watford's 2-1 win over their FA Cup quarter-final opponents when they met at Vicarage Road in August.
Hodgson said: "His position in the club is very secure. I don't think he can get that much more respected. We need him and that type of player the same as Watford need Troy Deeney."
Hodgson believes the Eagles do not have to compromise their chances of winning the FA Cup by prioritising the club's Premier League status, believing a successful run to May's final can be coupled with securing top-flight safety.
Crystal Palace have lost two matches against Watford already this season, both in the league - they haven't lost three in a row in all competitions against the Hornets since March 1936.
But the 71-year-old Hodgson insists there is no clear favourite heading into the first last-eight clash of the weekend.
"We are quite strong defensively. It's a team effort and we will need to be good against Watford who haven't conceded a goal in the FA Cup either," he added.
"They're above us in the table, but I do believe we are on a level with them. It's one of those matches where both teams have a good chance of winning. No way can we say it's an uneven contest.
Javi Gracia has refused to confirm if Heurelho Gomes will start in goal in what could be his last appearance at Vicarage Road after the Brazilian confirmed he is likely to depart at the end of the season.
Having rotated his side against Manchester City, Gracia is likely to recall Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu to his starting line-up. Defender Miguel Britos is a doubt with a knock, but the Spaniard has an otherwise fully-fit squad.
Hodgson has confirmed that Wayne Hennessey is fit after overcoming a knock and will decide on whether to rotate him with Vicente Guaita.
Patrick van Aanholt, Andros Townsend and James McArthur are all available after reporting slight injuries following the Brighton defeat.
Bakary Sako is a slight doubt having not trained for the last few days but he is closing in on being fit. Mamadou Sakho remains out with a knee injury but Pape Souare is back in training following a dislocated shoulder.
- Watford and Crystal Palace have played each other seven times in the FA Cup, most recently in the semi-final in 2015-16, a 2-1 win for Palace.
- Watford have progressed from their last three FA Cup quarter-final ties, winning in 2002-03, 2006-07 and 2015-16.
- All four teams to eliminate Watford in an FA Cup quarter-final have gone on to reach the final, with three winning the cup - Newcastle in 1932, Liverpool in 1986 and Wimbledon in 1988; the other was Arsenal in 1980, who lost to West Ham.
- This is Crystal Palace's eighth FA Cup quarter-final, progressing from four of their previous seven; however, they've been eliminated from both quarter-final ties against top flight opposition, losing to Everton in 1906-07 and Leeds United in 1964-65.
- Neither Watford nor Crystal Palace have conceded a single goal in this season's FA Cup, with Palace facing twice as many shots (42) as Watford (21).
- Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has lost both of his FA Cup quarter-finals as a manager, losing with Fulham in 2008-09 and 2009-10 against Man Utd and Tottenham respectively.
- Crystal Palace striker Michy Batshuayi has scored in all three of his previous appearances against Watford, scoring four goals, all in Premier League games while at Chelsea.
Charlie Nicholas' prediction
Watford are well balanced, well drilled. They don't have a lot of goals in them but Andre Gray has come into some form - they're a real handful. I like their midfield and Gerard Deulofeu when he's on song.
What they have done in the past is they caught up in the emotions and kick Zaha. It always seems to be a personal battle. They seem to lose their focus a bit.
I think Watford are the better side, but they're capable of losing their head and concentrating on being physical against Zaha. For that reason I'm going for Palace.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: Watford 1-2 C Palace (10/1 with Sky Bet)