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Crystal Palace v Watford: Flores stresses job is safe ahead of FA Cup semi-final

Quique Sanchez Flores has insisted his future as Watford head coach is secure and urged supporters to focus on Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final with Crystal Palace at Wembley.

Speculation has grown that the Spaniard could lose his job at the end of the season after just three Premier League victories since the turn of the year has seen the Hornets slip to 12th.

But Flores was quick to commit himself to Vicarage Road as he looks to take the club to a first FA Cup final since 1984.

“My future is completely happy,” Flores told reporters. “Because I have an amazing family, amazing kids, I am happy with my profession and I am completely happy with Watford fans.

“So my future is completely safe and is not important in this conversation. This conversation is about this match and Crystal Palace. The only thing I am worried about is this match.

“This is time to talk about Watford. Talk about Watford fans and how important this is for this club. I want to enjoy this experience and enjoy the last part of the season.”

Watford and Palace hold away wins over each other in the Premier league this season, with a late Troy Deeney strike sealing a 2-1 win at Selhurst Park in February in their last encounter.

“This kind of match is difficult because we know each other perfectly,” said Flores. 

“Both games were very competitive and even, so the difference is probably short in this moment between Crystal Palace and Watford.”

Watford made seven changes and rested key personnel for their 3-1 midweek loss to West Ham, including prolific striking duo Odion Ighalo and Deeney. Both are expected to come straight back into the side.

Nordin Amrabat is suspended following his red card at Upton Park. 

The two sides last squared off at Wembley in the 2013 Championship play-off final, which was won 1-0 by Palace thanks to a Kevin Phillips penalty.

It is Crystal Palace’s first FA Cup semi-final appearance since 1995 when they lost after a replay to Manchester United.

Alan Pardew called on the Premier League to look again at rules which mean English teams cannot play domestic fixtures on European nights, as he says it has caused a fixture pile-up.

“We’re really squeezing games in,” he said. “The run we’ve had – this is our fourth game in 12 days. That’s a tough run when you’ve got a semi-final, the biggest game in this club’s history for a while – since the play-off final for sure.”

Speaking about the semi-final, Pardew said: “When we’re in full flow, I think we have the edge on Watford. But their front two can do such damage. It’ll be tight.”

A host of Crystal Palace players missed Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester United with minor injuries, but Scott Dann, Yannick Bolasie, Joe Ledley, Joel Ward and Dwight Gayle are all expected to be fit.

James McArthur, who returned on Wednesday after 10 weeks out with ankle ligament damage, is fit to play a part. 


Key Opta Stats:

– This is Crystal Palace’s first appearance in the FA Cup semi-final since 1995. They’ve been eliminated in three of their four previous semi-final appearances, the exception being in 1990 when they beat Liverpool 4-3.
–  Watford have reached the FA Cup semi-final for the first time since 2007. They’ve lost four of their five previous games at this stage, but did beat Plymouth Argyle in 1984 to reach the final.
–  Palace have lost only two of their last 11 meetings with the Hornets in all competitions (W7 D2).
–  However, Watford hold the edge in the FA Cup, losing just one of the previous six FA Cup games against Palace (W3 D2). Their last meeting ended in a 4-3 in Round 4 in 2009.

Fri 22 Apr, 2016
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