The view from Selhurst Park.
Ahead of Watford's trip to Selhurst Park this weekend I caught up with Jay from the popular Crystal Palace blog, The Eagles Beak - @TheEaglesBeak.
The Eagles ran out 1-0 winners at Vicarage Road back in September, so I was keen to find out how things have fared for Palace since then, what players have impressed as well as Jays' views on the Golden Boys.
How has the season panned out since we faced each other at the Vic back in September?
To reach 31 points by the end of 2015 was a fantastic achievement but the cracks were starting to appear. We had got away with a few injuries here and there but as we got into the new year it was getting too much. We ran into a resurgent Chelsea team after shedding Mourinho, a spanking at Manchester City and a loss at home to Spurs, which was in fact an improved performance. There was no excuse losing away to Aston Villa but a combination of a growing injury list and poor run of form by some individuals has really hit us hard. In saying all that, our form in the FA Cup has been good, seeing off Southampton and Stoke City. After five losses in a row it was important to stem the flow with something from Swansea, which thankfully we did, so hopefully that will be the turning point.
Highlight of the season so far?
The 2-1 win at Chelsea earlier in the season which was an excellent performance from us and on par with the 5-1 demolition of Newcastle United. Both showed what this squad of players is capable of if free from injury.
Which players have impressed you for Palace this season and why?
Yohan Cabaye. He has been the player that we were all expecting and more, as he is so good in possession and protecting the ball. Also, Yannick Bolasie has proved since he has been out with injury just how important he has been to us.
You brought in Emmanuel Adebayor during the January transfer window, a player Watford were heavily linked with for some time. What are your thoughts on that signing and do you think he will add to you squad?
Adebayor was a free transfer who joins us until the end of the season. Considering how our loan deal for Patrick Bamford went I saw this as a no brainer. The big man is a proven goal-scorer at some of the top clubs in world football. The only down side is his rumoured disruption to the dressing room. So far, he has been that calming influence and a real pick me up to the squad. We were really struggling to fill that lone striker role when Wickham has not been available, which has been a lot this season, and Adebayor has so much experience along with the know-how.
What are your thoughts on Watford's season to date and what players in yellow have impressed you?
Yes, but unfortunately Bournemouth and Leicester City have stolen the limelight from you a little this season. Watford have been impressive considering the recent upheaval you have experienced and simply gone about business quietly but effectively. It is a long season and often newly promoted sides get found out at some point but Watford have looked the one, out of the three, with the best chance of securing a second successive season in the top flight.
What did you think of our business in the January transfer window?
Nothing too dramatic but signing players to fulfil needs which is a very sensible approach. Often new faces provide that bit of fresh impetus to a squad of players that have just gone through the rigors of the typical English winter fixture congestion. The pick has to be Suarez but signing a player in January is often tough, as players have to hit the ground running, so it will be interesting to see how he does but he has undoubted talent. I do have reservations about clubs signing players and loaning them out straight away, which is what you have done with both Doucoure and Penaranda, but can see it from an investment perspective.
Hopes for the rest of the season?
Even though we have gone through a tough run of form there is still real hope that we can finish in the top ten come the end of the season. We will only get stronger as the weeks pass with returning players from injury, apart from James McArthur who is out for the season after tearing ankle ligaments. He will be a big miss. It would be nice to get past Spurs in the FA Cup too but that is a tough fixture.
Key player for Palace on Saturday?
You will not like me saying this but Wilfried Zaha has been in terrific form of late, particularly in the absence of Bolasie. He gives full backs a torrid time every time he plays and I expect that to continue on Saturday. He is really showing the form that saw Manchester United shell out for him.
While it was just a point from Swansea I expect it will have bigger implications in terms of morale among the team as we look to come out the other side of this sticky few weeks. Eight games without a win is a long time and I fully expect to see a resurgent Palace side this weekend. 2-1 home win but it will be tough against a good Watford side.
Thanks to Jay for his time and good luck to Crystal Palace for the rest of the season!