Wembley Stadium hosts the biggest game of the season for Crystal Palace and Watford on Monday afternoon, when they compete for one of the biggest prizes in club football, £120 million and a place in the Premier League next season.
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Both sides will perhaps feel slightly disappointed to be playing in this match though, knowing that promotion to the big time could have been sealed during the season rather than coming down until this crucial 'winner takes all' game.
Ian Holloways Crystal Palace side only managed 1 win in there last 10 league games, which included 5 draws and 4 losses. One of the most concerning stats from those final 10 league games is that Crystal Palace failed to score in 6 of those fixtures, including a 3-0 defeat to rivals Brighton, a 4-0 loss to Birmingham and a goalless draw at home with relegation strugglers Barnsley. However, they were still the 2nd highest scorers in the Championship last season with 73 goals, but Watford were the side above them with 85 goals. Palace will also be without top goalscorer Glenn Murray in this game after he was injured in the 1st leg of the playoff semi final against Brighton. With Murray scoring 30 of the teams league goals this season, Palace will need someone to step up to the mark in this game and that someone could be Wilfried Zaha. Zaha 'left' Crystal Palace in the January transfer window to join Manchester United, and happened to be Alex Fergusons last signing, however he was immediately loaned back to Palace for the remainder of the season, and in his final game for the club, he will be looking to give Palace fans a positive reason to remember his name before saying goodbye.
Watford came closer to securing automatic promotion, finished behind eventual runners up, Hull City, by only 2 points following a 2-1 defeat at Vicarage Road by Leeds United on the final day of the Championship season. It wasn't just this game that cost Watford automatic promotion though, along with Palace, Watford didn't have a great finish to the season and suffered surprise defeats to Peterborough and Millwall in April. They did manage to turn the semi final around though, after losing the 1st leg 1-0 away to Leicester, they turned the game around to win 3-1 in the 2nd leg, despite the crazy finish to that game, with Leicester missing a penalty moments before Watford scored there 3rd goal.
I am expecting this to be a high entertaining game with both sides having plenty of chances. My concern for Crystal Palace is the fact that they may be relying on Wilfried Zaha too much with the absence of Glenn Murray, whereas Watford have plenty of goalscoring options in Vydra, Deeney and Abdi and that will be enough to win them the game. BetVictor, StanJames and William Hill all have Watford at 7/5 to win in 90 minutes.
With so much at stake, and the teams being local rivals, tempers could also flair, and PaddyPower have a red card to be shown in the match at 7/2.
Match Winner – Watford – 7/5 with Bet Victor
A Red Card In The Match – 7/2 Paddy Power
Both Teams To Score – Yes – 4/5 with Coral