Watford v Crystal Palace: Eagles' away form makes goals likely

Andros Townsend's pace gives Palace real threat on the break
Andros Townsend's pace gives Palace real threat on the break
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Crystal Palace have been impressive on their travels and they should help deliver a goal-filled FA Cup quarter-final at Watford on Saturday lunchtime, says Andy Schooler...

"In the league, 71% of Watford’s home games have featured at least three goals, while 60% of Palace’s away games have."

Back over 2.5 goals @ 2.06

Watford v Crystal Palace
Saturday, 12:15
Live on BT Sport 2

It has been an FA Cup of many surprises and thanks to that, this quarter-final represents a big opportunity for both sides.

If the winners can avoid the two Manchester clubs in the semi-final draw, then that team will really be fancying their chances of reaching the final and having a shot at silverware.

Despite this, such is the state of modern-day football that it's hard to know whether both managers will be putting out full-strength sides.

Watford have played a virtual reserve team so far in the competition, although the fact that they opted to rest players at Manchester City last weekend in the Premier League suggests they are now going to give the Cup a proper go.

Roy Hodgson has also changed his side in this competition and been depressingly honest that the league is his priority. With Palace just five points above the relegation zone it surely remains so, but the fact that Palace don't have another game for a fortnight due to the international break must make it more likely he will field at least most of his stars.

Watford have enjoyed a fine season and, sitting eighth in the league, they have two potential routes into Europe open to them.

Of the teams below them, only Bournemouth have won at Vicarage Road this season and that was in a game in which the Hornets were reduced to 10 men in the first half.

Away-day joy

Javier Gracia has pretty much a full-strength squad to choose from and they will look to continue an impressive run since the turn of the year which has brought seven wins and just three defeats in 13 games.

Palace's 2019 has been remarkably similar in terms of results (seven wins and four defeats in 13) but the real stand-out factor for the Eagles has been their exceptional away form.

Of their last seven away games, Palace have won five and drawn one, their only defeat coming at title-chasing Liverpool. The fixtures have hardly been soft either with victories coming at Manchester City, Wolves and Leicester, all of whom reside in the top half of the Premier League.

Their ability to break at pace through the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend means they are well set up for games on the road and they've been making teams pay, scoring at least twice in six of those seven and at least three times in four of them.

Palace potential

A massive 69% of their league goals have come on their travels (and 61% of their points) and Hodgson's men have potential as [3.3] underdogs in the win-draw-win market.

That said, they have lost both games to Watford this season, although the game here came close to the start of the season and Palace have progressed since then. Watford are [2.44] with the draw at [3.35].

As for the to qualify prices - remember it's extra time and penalties on the day if required - the hosts are [1.59], with Palace at [2.16].

Stats suggest goals

Those Palace goal figures immediately make [2.06] about over 2.5 goals catch the eye. Dig a little deeper and you find that in the league, 71% of Watford's home games have featured at least three goals, while 60% of Palace's away games have.

Both league encounters this season meet the criteria too, so there looks to be some value in the price.

Both teams to score also produces some pretty strong stats - 57% of Watford's home league games and 67% of Palace's away matches fit. Those figures include the two previous meetings. The 'yes' option is priced at [1.84], an option which is strengthened when you consider Palace have scored in all 13 games they've played so far this year.

Eagles are early-risers

However, arguably better value comes from another trend, namely the fact that Palace have led at half time in 10 of their 19 away games in all competitions this season. That's a very high number.

Despite this, you can get 13/5 about them winning the first half in this game. That is doubtless a reflection on the strength of opposition, yet Palace have led at half time against Man City, Wolves and Leicester in recent times.

It's also worth noting that nine of those 10 half-time leads have been 1-0 - it's 4/1 about the half-time score being 1-0 to Palace on Saturday which looks worth a small punt.

Same Game Multi

Heading to the cards markets make sense here as these are two sides with a bit of history, which goes back to Palace's Championship play-off win of 2013.

Wilfried Zaha angered the Watford fans that day by winning a penalty and has done so on other occasions since. He's been booked twice for diving against them - overall he's collected four cards in eight games against them since that play-off.

Zaha was targeted by both Watford players and fans in the equivalent league game in August. He was successfully wound up and booked on that occasion and a repeat would be no surprise given he's been carded in nine of his 28 games this season.

Jose Holebas is another serial offender - he was the first Premier League player to 10 yellow cards this season. The left-back will have to deal with the pace of either Townsend or Zaha and so could easily find himself in the notebook again.

The ref is a good one too for cards. Kevin Friend's yellow-card average is the fourth highest among Premier League officials. He's also booked Zaha in two of his last three Palace games.

The anytime card double pays 13.34.

Opta fact

Crystal Palace have lost two matches against Watford already this season, both in the league - they haven't lost three in a row in all competitions against the Hornets since March 1936.

Click here to read Alex Keble's FA Cup tactical preview

Andy Schooler's P/L 2018/19

Staked: 58pts
Returned: 59.13pts
P/L: +1.13pts

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