Match Preview: Crystal Palace vs Watford.
The working week is done. The wait is nearly over. It's FA Cup semi-final time; the game we've looked forward to ever since that superb 2-1 win over Arsenal in the quarter finals is here.
Half of Wembley Stadium will be a sea of yellow and black on Sunday afternoon, as Watford take on Crystal Palace in the FA Cup semi-final at 4pm. Beat Palace and Manchester United or Everton will wait in the final and it will be a chance for Quique Sanchez Flores and his men to create history.
The Hornets come into the game having recorded a decent total of 4 points from their last three games, which has helped to avert the slump they were in. Prior to Watford's draw with Everton on the 9th April, the Golden Boys had lost each of their last four games.
As a result, Quique Sanchez Flores' men currently sit in 12th place in the table on 41 points and this will be the first time they have reached the semi-final of the FA Cup since 2007.
On the other hand, Crystal Palace sit in 16th place in the table, after a dismal second half of the season, which has seen them win just one of their last 15 in the league. In the FA Cup however, it has been a different story, with the Eagles overcoming Southampton, Stoke, Tottenham Hotspur and Reading to reach the semi-finals of the competition.
In the last meeting between the two sides in February, it was Watford who ran out 2-1 winners, thanks to a brace from Troy Deeney. The Hornets striker put the Golden Boys in front from the penalty spot early on in the first half, before Emmanuel Adebayor equalised on the stroke of half time. As the match entered the final 10 minutes, Deeney put the Hornets back in front thanks to a great finish on the half volley and Quique Sanchez Flores' men held on to claim the three points.
The key player for Palace on Sunday will undoubtedly be winger, Wilfried Zaha. The England international always seems to cause Watford problems, with his pace and skill running the Hornets' full-backs ragged this season.
On his day, Zaha has proven that he is virtually unplayable due to his direct and skilful style of play. Speaking to Palace fans, questions are still raised over his consistency and the number of goals he scores, but Zaha is still young. There's still time for him to progress and he will undoubtedly be crucial to Palace's chances of progressing to the final.
So here it is; the FA Cup Semi-final. The game we've looked forward to for well over a month. It's important to forget about what's been said in the media this week about Quique Sanchez Flores. We must forget about what has happened previously this season and in previous meetings. It's time to forget about our woes and what has gone wrong this week.
Our focus needs to be on being the 12th man. From the first whistle, we need to show the players that we are right behind them and that we want it as much as them. This is an FA Cup semi-final. Events like this only come around occasionally. It's time to be loud and proud and show where our loyalties lie. Come on you Orns!!!!!
For Crystal Palace, Alan Pardew has been boosted by the news that Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Joe Ledley and Yannick Bolasie are all fit to play at Wembley. James McCarthur returned from injury in mid-week, but is not expected to start.
For Watford, the Hornets are without Nordin Amrabat who was sent off in the defeat to West Ham in midweek. Joel Ekstrand and Tommie Hoban are still ruled out.
Predicted team line-ups -
Crystal Palace - Hennessey (GK), Ward, Dann ©, Delaney, Souare, Cabaye, Jedinak, Zaha, Puncheon, Bolasie, Wickham.
Watford - Pantilimon (GK), Nyom, Britos, Cathcart, Ake, Behrami, Capoue, Watson, Jurado, Deeney ©, Ighalo.
Referee - Craig Pawson.