Date: 6th February 2013 at 5:26pm
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A tough encounter with Watford awaits Ollie, so what are a Watford fans thoughts ahead of the game?

With thanks to wfc123 from Vital Watford.

1) Is the season going as you expected and what has been the highlight and lowlight so far?

The season has gone far better than I would ever have expected. Back in the summer when the previous owner sold-up, the new owners sacked Sean Dyche and brought in the entirely unknown quantity of Gianfranco Zola and 14 loan additions, most supporters were skeptical.

However, everything has come together a million times better than we (I) could ever have expected and a result we’re flying at the moment. The opening couple of months of the season, where we were wildly inconsistent and extremely leaky, were much more representative of how I expected the season to go as the new players gelled and Zola imparted his football philosophy on the squad.

In terms of a highlight, I’d say the last three or four months have been a highlight, but if I had to pin down a precise game or moment I would plump for the 2-1 win at Middlesbrough in January. It was the typical away clash that we’ve become accustomed to; seeing little of the ball and having few presentable chances, yet still securing the win with devastating and incisive counter-attacking play.

The lowlight was probably losing 2-0 at Bristol City last Tuesday. Bottom of the league Bristol City were there for a pummeling as far as most supporters were concerned, so the 2-0 defeat was far from scripted – especially as we could have gone second – talk about spoiled!

2) Any transfer window deals that we might not be aware of, but should look out for?

The only two pieces of incoming business were the loan extension to Nathaniel Chalobah’s deal, and the permanent capture of Fernando Forestieri. Neither man had signed for us when we played Palace on the opening day of the season so hopefully they’ll come as something of an unknown quantity to you!

Chalobah is a classy midfield operator, happy on the ball, breaking up the play and starting attacks. He has perhaps not been at his best in the past couple of weeks and if there’s on player who could perhaps benefit from a little rest, it’s him.

Forestieri is one of the most technically-gifted players to pass through Vicarage Road in yonks. A spitting image for Lionel Messi and a similar kind of withdrawn forward, he started with the famous Newell’s Old Boys and has quickly settled in here. He loves a slaloming run and doesn’t mind a tumble. He should have more goals by now though (three).

3) Where do you see yourself finishing this season?


I think Cardiff are the closest thing to an ‘outstanding’ team in the division this year and I think anyone from second to about 12th probably has a decent case for making the top-six.

4) Where do you see your current weaknesses? Any clues will be greatly welcomed 🙂

It plays into our hands when teams attack us as we are so effective on the counter. By the same token, if teams sit back and ask us to break them down – as they often do at home – we tend to struggle slightly.

With Palace a strong side doing well, I would anticipate you attacking us which should play into our hands.

5) Who will be your key dangerman?

Matej Vydra is in absolutely electric form. He scored against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday – his 19th of the season from 17 starts and also the first time since December 1 that he’s scored just once in a game. The last five games he’s scored in have all brought him a brace.
He’s quick, sharp, a lethal finisher, and as he showed against big Zat Knight on Saturday, capable of holding off brutes where necessary. If we don’t go up, I don’t think he’ll remain at Vicarage Road – I hope I’m wrong of course.

6) Where do you see Palace finishing this season?


I think holding onto Wilfried Zaha will be big for you, but I also believe the boost that Ian Holloway has given your striking options will be the difference between all those draws and a few more wins.

7) Were you surprised to see Dougie Freedman walk out on us and what do you think of the appointment of Ian Holloway?

Yes, I was a little.

I can understand the decision in one respect; Bolton have been in the top-flight more recently, have a better infrastructure in terms of stadia etc, but Palace were absolutely flying when he decided to jump ship.

If he had of stayed and got the club promoted, that would have been a massive boost for his CV and something which would doubtless put him in the frame for ‘bigger’ (sorry!) jobs in the near-future, especially when you consider the current trend for ‘bright young managers’.

8) If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?

I expect most people will answer ‘Zaha’ to this question, but for me, I doubt his defensive credentials as he’d end up at wing-back in our side – plus of course he’s a Manchester United player really!

So, after much consideration – I toyed with Mile Jedinak and Jacob Butterfield, I’d opt for Glenn Murray so he could rot in the reserves and let Vydra storm to the Championship Golden Boot!

9) Who do you see as our main threat?

Zaha – you’re probably bored of that answer, aren’t you? Julian Speroni has been a good ‘keeper for yonks now and Jacob Butterfield is a shrewd operator too.

10) Where would you say our current weaknesses are in terms of how you will approach the match?

Honestly, I’m not really sure. I’ve not seen you all season.

It looks like you line-up 4-3-3 with Yannick Bolasie and Zaha wide of a centre-forward which means a key battle will be how hard your wide forwards press our wing-backs and vice-versa. On top of that we will match you up in the middle man-for-man assuming you do play three in the middle. I guess the game will be won and lost in those areas.

11) Finally, a prediction…

2-1 Watford.

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