Watford 1-1 Palace

Deeney (72 pen)
Cabaye (26)
Mon 26th December 2016
Vicarage Road

Sam Allardyce’s reign as Crystal Palace manager started with a disappointing draw at Vicarage Road. A good first-half performance against a depleted Watford side should have yielded a more comfortable lead than Yohan Cabaye’s second goal of the season gave them – but Christian Benteke missed from the spot for the second time this season.

What did the new Boss do differently?

With Joe Ledley and James McArthur joining the ever growing injury list, it is really difficult to gauge the direction that Allardyce is going to take with our undeniably talented but disjointed central midfield. There was one obvious difference in this match, however, and that was how much further forward Yohan Cabaye was.

When Cabaye signed for Palace, we all expected him to be playing more in the role that he undertook yesterday. For whatever reasons, Alan Pardew played him far more deep lying 98% of the time and many would argue that we haven’t seen the best that the Frenchman can offer. In the first half of this one, he caused Watford many problems and his movement for the goal was excellent. He did fade from the game in the second half but there was definitely enough in the first half to be encouraged by.

Andros Townsend

It is now obvious that the problem with Andros Townsend was Alan Pardew related. He was unrecognisable to the Townsend that we have seen this season. Regular readers of this blog will know that this sort of stuff makes my blood boil.

Scott Dann has been on the end of my wrath for stopping playing for managers (twice) and now it is Townsend’s turn.

We pay him £90k a week and he couldn’t beat an egg, let alone a full-back, before this match. Now, all of a sudden, he is skinning people for fun and produces passes like the one that set up Cabaye for the opener?! This is inexcusable. This is Crystal Palace Football Club and the going will be tough far more often than it is good. I want to see players that don’t melt away when it is the former only to thrive in the latter.  That sort of player is pointless in South London.

Naturally, I am ecstatic that he has miraculously returned to form – but in my mind, I know that he will sulk off as soon as things do not go his way, and that is the reason that I struggle to see myself ever warming to him.

Yes, the 1st half was good…

…but it needs context. Watford lost two players to injury almost immediately after the game kicked off. Everything that they have been working on went out of the window and it visibly affected them. Once the manager got them in for the break and could reorganise them, they came out a completely different team in the second half and comfortably controlled the game.

Meanwhile, Allardyce’s first half-time team talk as Palace manager would appear to have been disastrous when considering the contrast between the two forty-five minute performances. Watford were terrible in the first half and only a slight raising of their game in the second half saw them, largely, cope with our threat with ease. Yes, of course, they had the referee playing for them (I will come on to that) but as Allardyce said: “we can’t rely on the referee.”

Going into the game, they have more injury problems than us, which is saying something, and when factoring in the early changes that they were forced into – we should have won this match. Weirdly, I think that Pardew would have actually won this match, but I believe that it would have just been another Southampton and delaying again would have been disastrous.

What is clear, however, is that we cannot throw away many more three point opportunities as good as this one if we want to play Brighton next season.

Mark Clattenburg

The record of never having won a game in the Premier League that was officiated by Mark Clattenburg continues. It was the first time that we have seen him since the FA Cup Final – and he was arguably worse than he was back on that day in May.

Palace players were getting booked, while Watford players were committing identical fouls and getting away with a card. Jason Puncheon was yellow carded for a Watford player diving. Meanwhile, Kaboul blocked off Wilfried Zaha with half an empty pitch in front of him and he got away with just a free kick AND A FUCKING HIGH FIVE from Clattenburg.

He capped off his truly shocking performance when deciding to book Zaha for diving when he was clearly taken out right on the edge of the penalty area late on. I read an article the other day by a former referee that was explaining why Clattenburg is the best. The crux was that he reads the play well and is always in the right position. Well, much like all of the full backs in the league, he struggles to read Zaha’s game as his positioning was all wrong and was guessing at what he had seen at best. Then, because Zaha plays for Palace, he books him for diving. Even against a team like Watford, if that was at the other end he would have given a penalty because he so blatantly has something against Crystal Palace – it can be the only explanation for his constant biased decisions against us.

Jelly and ice cream…

Man of the Match: Andros Townsend

This is the player that I thought that we had signed. He was excellent both going forward and defensively. Hopefully, Allardyce will be able to get the best out of him on a weekly basis.

Shouts to Flamini, Kelly and Ward. All three had very solid games.

Up Next: Arsenal

They’ve been struggling to break teams down at the Emirates, so I do not go there without hope. A point would be amazing.

Come on you Palace!

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Mark Clattenburg

Crystal Palace

Palace Manager: 
Sam Allardyce


Opposition Manager: 
Walter Mazzarri