The view from Selhurst Park.

23/04/2016 10:24

Picture - Getty

This weekend is an important one for Watford and Crystal Palace. Both teams meet in the FA Cup Semi-Final at Wembley, in what will surely be a tight contest between two evenly matched sides.

The fixture will mark the first time that either side has returned to Wembley since the Championship Play Off Final in May 2013. It was Palace who were victorious on that day, thanks to a Kevin Phillips penalty in extra-time.

Ahead of the match, I caught up with Dan Crame from the brilliant The Eagles Beak blog, to speak about the game and how he's feeling, what we can expect from Crystal Palace and to hear his views on Watford.

How are you feeling ahead of this weekend's semi-final at Wembley?

"Before any Palace game, I'm always nervous so an FA Cup semi-final is no different. I haven't had the chance in my lifetime to see Palace get this far in a cup before, so reaching this stage is also something very exciting." 


What sort of game are you expecting on Sunday, bearing in mind the encounters between the two sides earlier this season?

"It will be a close one. I feel both sides are fairly similar and the fact that neither did the double in the league this season strengthens that point for me. I imagine it'll be a draw at half time and one goal will separate the sides at full time."


After such a good first half of the season, Palace, much like Watford, have struggled during the second half of the season. What's gone wrong/changed for the Eagles?

"I think it's safe to say the start of 2016 wasn't kind to palace fans, with heavy defeats to Chelsea, Manchester City and Spurs along with an awful 1-0 loss away at Villa Park which is one to forget this season. From my experience, teams that do well in the cup competitions can never really succeed in the league unless they are a top side and I think that goes for Palace at Watford this season. The route Palace had to take to get to the semi-finals wasn't easy with games against Southampton, Stoke, Spurs and even away at Reading which haven't helped the fitness of our players at all."


What are fan's views on Alan Pardew? Do they want him to stay?

"I don't want Pardew to go and I think this cup run has saved his job to be quite honest. Any other manager,
especially in this day and age would have been sacked after fourteen games without a win so Pardew has been very, very lucky. A large percentage of fans wanted him out when we were seven or eight games without a win and I think there's still a few who would like to see the back of him, but that much needed win against Norwich at the start of the month has definitely calmed things down. Nevertheless, if Pardew has another run like that next season I can't see
him staying."

Wilfried Zaha always seems to play out of his skin against Watford. How important will he be for Palace on Sunday and what do you think are his best attributes?

"Zaha, like Bolasie, is very unpredictable. There have been multiple occasions when Zaha has been completely
unplayable this season but there are still questions about his final product, goal scoring and delivery. Currently Zaha is the top player in Europe for successful take on's, ahead of the likes of Neymar and Messi. This shows that his technical ability is his best asset." 


Aside from Zaha, who else will be key for Palace on Sunday?

"Yohan Cabaye. The Frenchman always puts in a thorough performance even if that is a quiet job of winning
the ball back and linking up play. Cabaye was a coup for Palace and recently, in our win against Norwich, his ability to regain possession at clinical moments of play helped us in getting forward. Cabaye is a quality upgrade on Mile Jedinak and will undoubtedly be key on Sunday."

What are your hopes for next season and what positions do Palace need to strengthen in the summer?

"Next season I would love Palace to win a cup and finish in the top half of the Premier League. We desperately
need to strengthen our centre backs, as Delaney is getting on a bit and I doubt that Hangeland will be with us next season. I also hope we sell a few players and replace them with higher quality players and with our American investment, I believe this will be possible."


Thoughts on Watford? Have we surprised you in any way this season?

"Yes, very much so. Watford's first half of the season was similar to ours and that surprised me considering you had just come up from the Championship. I didn't tip Watford for relegation at the start of the season but the fact that the top half of the table has been a home for you is incredible, not to mention the run in the FA cup too."


What Watford players have impressed you this season?

"The partnership between Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney has impressed due to the sheer amount of quality and goals they have brought to your side. Ben Watson has also impressed me this season and it was nice to welcome him back to SE25 as an old admirer of the midfielder."

Score prediction?

"Like I said, I think this game is going to be tight but there will be chances. 1-0 to Palace for me."

Thanks to Dan for his time and enjoy the game on Sunday!

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