Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew has been encouraged by the early work of new signing Emmanuel Adebayor and says now is the moment for his team to halt their poor run of form as they prepare to host Watford.
Neither team go into Saturday’s game at Selhurst Park in good form, with Palace having failed to win in their last eight league matches, picking up just three points in the process.
Watford, meanwhile, have won only once in their last eight Premier League outings, failing to score in four of their previous five league games.
Despite their bad runs, Palace and Watford sit 12th and 10th in the table respectively – separated by just one point – and are still in position to stage positive conclusions to the campaign.
Pardew feels the move to bring in Adebayor, together with players returning to availability, are signs for optimism after last week’s 1-1 draw at Swansea City.
Palace have Connor Wickham back from suspension and Dwight Gayle (hamstring) should be available after two months out. Yannick Bolasie and Bakary Sako are also a week away from returning.
“We have lost key players in one area really,” said Pardew. “Our offensive area was wiped out.
“We have strengthened with big Ade and now players are returning. The instinctive part of [Adebayor’s] game may not kick in for a little while, but his levels were very good versus Swansea.
“It is very rare that you would go through a season without a difficult period. This was ours, but hopefully that point [at Swansea] puts us on the right track.
“We need to collect points – we are at a pivotal part of our season. We need to try to win against a good Watford side, then welcome our guys back and know that we are going to be much better going forward.
“Watford have been very impressive, particularly at home. They are having a good season, no doubt about that.”
Visiting manager Quique Sanchez Flores was similarly complimentary about Palace, who beat Watford 1-0 in the reverse fixture in September thanks to Yohan Cabaye’s penalty.
He said: “We expect a lot from Crystal Palace. They played well against us at Vicarage Road. They have a very good coach and we play away, so we are looking for our best performance.
“Adebayor is a very good player – he can help Palace a lot. He is just the player they need. They have injuries to players like Bolasie and he will help them to the end of the season.
“They are now on a bad run like us but they have a very good coach, they have really good players. They are dangerous on set pieces, dangerous on the long balls – a very good team.
“For sure they will think against Watford it is a good opportunity to win. For us we think a win over Crystal Palace would keep us in the top half and make sure we are closer to the objective of staying up. I am waiting for that moment to come.”
Watford’s main injury concern is defender Miguel Britos (dead leg). He will be assessed ahead of kick-off.
Key Opta stats:
– Crystal Palace have won seven and lost just one of the last 10 meetings with Watford in all competitions.
– Only Jamie Vardy (8) has scored the opening goal of a Premier League game more often than Odion Ighalo (6) this season.
– Referee Rob Madley has awarded a league-high 10 penalties in the 17 Premier League matches that he has taken charge of in 2015-16.
– Watford (7) and Crystal Palace (9) have conceded the fewest goals in the first half of Premier League games this season.
– Palace have scored a league-high eight goals from defenders this season, but have the lowest tally of goals from strikers (1).
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