Watford 0-0 Crystal Palace: Palace hold Hornets to goalless draw at Vicarage Road
Report and free highlights with new Watford head coach Nigel Pearson watching on
Last Updated: 07/12/19 7:33pm
Watford ended a run of three defeats with a goalless stalemate against Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road.
New head coach Nigel Pearson was watching from the stands as caretaker boss Hayden Mullins oversaw duties from the dugout for the second game running.
Watford started as the brighter side with waves of attacks down their right flank, but early promise from £40m signing Ismaila Sarr petered out and neither side managed a shot on target before the half-time whistle.
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- Watford: Christian Kabasele and Roberto Pereyra both start after returning from injury, with Adrian Mariappa and Will Hughes dropping to the bench.
- Crystal Palace: Gary Cahill returns and Jeffrey Schlupp earns a starting berth after his winner in midweek, with suspended Mamadou Sakho and the injured Patrick van Aanholt dropping out.
The second half proved more lively with Mullins' side imposing superiority for the lion's share as Gerard Deulofeu found his groove and combined effectively with Sarr.
But Wilfried Zaha proved a regular menace, bursting from midfield and frequently being floored with tactical fouls from Watford, which resulted in several heated exchanges throughout the game.
Watford almost collected all three points at the end, but substitute Andre Gray's run was blocked and taken on by Troy Deeney, whose deflected shot fell to Sarr - but Vicente Guaita nudged the ball to safety to secure the point.
Watford: Foster (6), Deulofeu (7), Deeney (6), Masina (7), Cathcart (6), Doucoure (6), Fermenia (6), Sarr (7), Kabasele (6), Capoue (6), Pereyra (6)
Subs: Chalobah (n/a), Gray (n/a)
Subs: Benteke (6), McCarthy (n/a, Riedewald (6)
Glimpses of promise for Watford
Pearson would almost certainly have been impressed with his new side after a stoic performance, against a team who sat seventh in the league at kick-off.
Zaha single-handedly attempted to drive Palace forward and tempers began to flare after the Ivorian collapsed with the ball and three Watford players chopped away at the ball between his legs.
That undercurrent of bubbling aggression produced several moments of fracas between Zaha and a raft of Watford players, which saw Christian Kabasele receive a questionable caution, before three other Watford players joined him in the book.
Deulofeu failed to find any power with a clear chance after the break as Watford rekindled their early dominance and took the game to Palace,
But clear-cut chances were rare until the final 10 minutes, when Jordan Ayew fainted past Adam Masina but blazed his shot over the bar, before Sarr and Deulofeu collectively conjured three opportunities for the hosts.
Gary Cahill snuffed out moments of danger during the closing stages, preventing Sarr on two occasions, blocking a header and perfectly timing a last-ditch challenge.
In what was almost the final act of the game, Gray's direct run was deflected for attempts on goal by Deeney and Sarr - but none of the three failed to convert a winner.
What the managers said
Watford manager Hayden Mullins
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson
Man of the match - Ismaila Sarr
Sarr showed glimpses of real promise for Watford's relegation battle ahead and would have impressed incoming head coach Pearson in the stands, along with established counterpart Deulofeu.
For Palace, Zaha was also a contender, but Sarr was a regular threat in a game with few chances.
- Watford are winless in their last 12 home Premier League games, their longest run without a victory on home soil in the league ever.
- Crystal Palace have kept three consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League for the first time since March 2017, with the Watford also the third opponent in that run.
- Watford are the only side in the top four tiers of English football yet to hit double figures for league goals this season (9).
- This is only the second Premier League game this season not to see a single shot on target in the first half (also Leicester v Wolves in August).
Watford face a difficult festive period, travelling to Anfield next Saturday before hosting Manchester United the following Sunday.
Crystal Palace welcome Brighton on Monday Night Football before facing Newcastle at St James' Park on the Saturday before Christmas Day.