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Crystal Palace will host Watford on May 7 vying to win back-to-back home Premier League games against the Hornets, but the Eagles have changed a lot since the last clash at home.

Roy Hodgson oversaw a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park on March 7, 2020, as Jordan Ayew hit the only goal. The Ghana forward broke the deadlock on 28 minutes when he turned in James McArthur’s assist past Ben Foster for his eighth of nine goals that season over 37 outings.

Ayew’s goal moved Palace into the top-half of the table and pushed Watford onto the cusp of the relegation zone. The Hornets edged Bournemouth at the 29-game mark only on goal difference. Yet they joined the Cherries and Norwich in going down as Aston Villa survived.

Watford secured an immediate return to the Premier League last season, but did not enjoy success against Patrick Vieira’s Palace. The Eagles took a 4-1 win away at Vicarage Road on February 23 with Jean-Philippe Mateta, Conor Gallagher and Wilfried Zaha (two) scoring.

A Crystal Palace win on Saturday will see Vieira become the first Eagles manager to do the double over Watford in the Premier League. They could only draw 0-0 at Vicarage Road in the 2019/20 season. Crystal Palace did a Championship double over Watford in 2011/12.

The Hornets have done the double over the Eagles more recently, after winning home and away in the top-flight in the 2018/19 term. Both matches ended 2-1 in favour of Watford – along with the Hertfordshire side’s only other Premier League win at Selhurst Park in 2016.

So, where are the XI that started the last time Crystal Palace beat Watford at home now?


Vicente Guaita started in goal for Crystal Palace the last time they beat Watford at Selhurst Park. The Spaniard joined the Eagles for free after leaving Getafe in 2018 as Hodgson’s first summer signing as boss and remains in south London, where his contract expires in 2023.

The 35-year-old has gone on to reach 125 appearances with Palace across all competitions so far for 39 clean sheets. Guaita is on a personal-best record for Premier League shut outs so far this season, having kept 11 over 29 outings. His previous high was 10 set in 2019/20.


Joel Ward has spent the last decade at Selhurst Park after joining from Portsmouth for just £400k in 2012. The 32-year-old remains an important presence with the Eagles, with Vieira affording him 26 Premier League games so far this season, of which he has also started 25.

Vieira has additionally handed Ward the Crystal Palace captaincy on a number of occasions before a groin injury in February. The blow ended his run as a consistent starter and he is yet to regain the right-sided position, starting at left-back against Leeds and Southampton.


Crystal Palace signed Scott Dann from Blackburn Rovers in 2014 and the defender stayed at Selhurst Park until last summer. The Eagles chose to release the 35-year-old at the end of his contract, clearing Reading to swoop and seal his services as a free agent in August.

Dann made 181 appearances for Crystal Palace, including starting their last home win over Watford in March 2020 under Hodgson. He also carved out an important role at the Royals before suffering with injuries, to merit earning a new contract keeping him there to 2023.


Gary Cahill enjoyed a trophy-laden seven years at Chelsea before joining Crystal Palace in a free transfer in 2019. He left Stamford Bridge with two Premier League titles, a Champions League winners’ medal, two FA Cups, a EFL Cup and two Europa League titles to his name.

The defender would make 47 outings for the Eagles before leaving Selhurst Park at the end of his contract in 2021. Bournemouth picked up the 36-year-old centre-half to aid their bid for promotion out of the Championship. But he would fall out of favour from February on.


Patrick van Aanholt joined Crystal Palace from Sunderland in January 2017, in a deal worth up to £14m. He had spent the previous two-and-a-half years at the Stadium of Light after leaving Chelsea for just £1.5m. With the Eagles, the Dutchman played 134 games in total.

Crystal Palace would eventually let the left-back leave Selhurst Park as one of the 22 stars they released in 2021. Van Aanholt secured a transfer to Galatasaray, where he has been a firm fixture and helped the Super Lig side reach the Europa League last 16 with 12 outings.


James McCarthy found himself a part of Crystal Palace’s summer 2021 clear out and sealed a free transfer to Celtic. The midfielder failed to establish himself as a vital Eagles figure in his two years in south London due to injuries, following a £3m move from Everton in 2019.

But fitness issues followed the Glasgow-born Republic of Ireland international to Parkhead. Ange Postecoglou has never considered McCarthy a guaranteed starter as the Hoops strive to reclaim the Premiership title from rivals Rangers, or in any of their cup competitions.


McArthur sealed a last-gasp £5.5m move to Crystal Palace from Wigan Athletic on deadline day in September 2014 under Neil Warnock. The midfielder had helped the Latics win the FA Cup in 2013, but did not help avoid relegation that term or secure promotion in ‘13/14.

The 32-cap Scotland international has been a fixture of the Eagles’ engine room ever since his arrival when fit. He has now reached 248 appearances for the Selhurst Park natives in all competitions, including starting Crystal Palace’s last win at home to Watford in 2020.


Crystal Palace dipped into the east London market for a £9.5m deal with West Ham United in 2018, rising to £11m. Cheikhou Kouyate had spent four years with the Hammers and has now reached four with the Eagles, over which the 32-year-old has often been a mainstay.

Kouyate made 31 Premier League appearances in his first season at Selhurst Park, plus 35 and 36 in the following two. Hodgson continually favoured the Senegal international in his line-up, either in midfield or as a centre-half. Vieira has so far preferred him in his midfield.


Ayew is nearing the end of his Crystal Palace contract after agreeing a three-year deal after joining from Swansea City for £2.5m in 2019. The 30-year-old has remained a regular part of the Eagles attack following Vieira’s arrival at the helm to replace Hodgson last summer.

His influence has not always been as sharp as Vieira may like, in common with his output last term. After hitting nine goals over 37 Premier League games in 2019/20 – including in Crystal Palace’s last home win over Watford – Ayew only managed to score one in ‘20/21.


Crystal Palace broke their club-record to sign Christian Benteke from Liverpool in 2016 for £27m, rising to £32m with add-ons. They also awarded him a new, two-year contract last summer. But the Belgian has not hit great heights or held a key presence under Vieira.

The Eagles boss has mostly favoured Jean-Philippe Mateta and paid Celtic £14m, up to £18.5m, for Odsonne Edouard. Their place in Vieira’s plans has left Benteke to only start in 11 of his Premier League appearances so far this season and has not since New Years’ Day.


Zaha scored twice as Crystal Palace beat Watford 4-1 at Vicarage Road in February, and he also started the last time the Eagles beat the Hornets at home in a Premier League fixture.

The Ivorian has been a key part of Vieira’s plans and the Frenchman’s most lethal option in south London this term. He has taken his Crystal Palace career haul of appearances to 426, after starting 31 of 33. Only against Newcastle and Southampton has he been a substitute.

But the 2021/22 campaign could be Zaha’s last hurrah at Crystal Palace, with the Daily Mail reporting the Eagles are willing to sell the forward this summer. The Selhurst Park natives believe Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze have the potential to replace what Zaha provides.

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