Crystal Palace v Watford
Saturday 18 March, 15:00
Back-to-back wins over Middlesbrough and West Brom have lifted Palace out of the relegation zone into 17th, although they are only a point clear of Hull.
Sam Allardyce has built his defence around Mamadou Sakho, the January loan signing from Liverpool, rather than club captain Scott Dann and there has been a distinct improvement.
He might be forced to make a change at left-back as Patrick van Aanholt is battling to recover from an ankle injury, with Jeffrey Schlupp set to deputise.
Walter Mazzarri's side gave themselves some breathing space with some good results around six weeks ago but they have taken only one point from their last three games and are still in some danger. They are 13th in the table on 31 points, six ahead of Palace and seven clear of the drop zone.
The Hornets' creativity has been restricted by long-term injuries to first Roberto Pereyra and now Mauro Zarate, although they still managed to make enough chances in last week's 4-3 home defeat by Southampton.
Mazzarri seems set to name an unchanged line-up, although right-back Daryl Janmaat is likely to be available again after injury.
For Allardyce, it has been all about Palace keeping a clean sheet and that was integral to their wins over Boro (1-0 at home) and West Brom (2-0 away). Their only other shutout was away to Bournemouth on January 31 and that was their only other win under Allardyce (2-0).
When Palace have conceded under Allardyce, their record is W0 D1 L6 (the draw was 1-1 at Watford in his first match) and they have scored more than one goal on just two occasions in his 10 league games in charge, so their record clearly indicates it will be difficult for them to win without shutting out Watford.
Watford have failed to score in eight of their 27 league games (only six teams have more failures, one of them being Palace with nine) and it is feasible that Palace will stop them scoring, especially as Mazzarri's side have fired blanks against several of the strugglers (Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Swansea, Burnley).
It is interesting, however, that Watford have a record of W5 D4 L0 when scoring against bottom-half teams. The records of both teams indicate a decent win chance for Watford at [4.8] - as long as they score.
This is another market that could hinge on whether Palace keep a clean sheet. The three games where they have done that for Allardyce have all had under 2.5 goals and their own scoring problems have led to four of their other seven games under the new boss also having unders.
Watford's scoring stats have been more variable, although over 2.5 goals is a pretty good bet if they score (14 times out of 19 this season). All of their eight blanks have resulted in under 2.5 goals, which ties in with Palace's record with a clean sheet.
It is obvious by now that this is Allardyce's preferred way to win and Palace backers should be looking at a home win to nil at [2.88].
Eight of Allardyce's last 12 Premier League wins (with Sunderland last season and Palace) have been to nil.
Martin Atkinson is one of the most experienced Premier League referees, often taking charge of the bigger matches. His larger bookings tallies tend to come in this type of match-up, with seven out of 11 not involving a big-six club having at least 40 bookings points.
Back Watford to win at [4.8]
Troy Deeney has scored four goals in his last three appearances against Crystal Palace in all competitions. Deeney has scored more goals in his last six Premier League appearances (5) than he had in his previous 21 (4) in the competition this season. Deeney is [3.7] to score.
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Andrew Atherley 2016/17 Season P/L