Watford will be aiming to win their first Premier League game since 22 December when they travel to Crystal Palace.
After progressing to the fourth round of the FA Cup thanks to a 2-0 victory over Woking, Javi Gracia’s attentions will be focused on returning to winning ways in domestic football.
Here is the lineup Gracia is likely to pick for Saturday’s fixture.
1. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Ben Foster (GK) – Foster’s performances have gone somewhat under the radar so far this season. He has frequently been Watford’s best player in games, perhaps most notably in their unfortunate 2-1 loss to Manchester City in December.
Kiko Femenía (RB) – One of the few players to have appeared for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, Femenía has made the right-back spot his own since Daryl Janmaat’s injury earlier this campaign.
Adrian Mariappa (CB) – Returning to face the club who he made 39 appearances for in a three-year spell, Mariappa has been suspect since he was drafted into the starting XI following Christian Kabasele’s injury. At 32, Mariappa’s lack of pace means he could be brutally exposed by the trickery and top-end speed of Wilfried Zaha.
Craig Cathcart (CB) – A product of the Manchester United youth academy, Cathcart must ensure he sticks tight to Eagles striker Jordan Ayew, who has scored in each of his last two games.
José Holebas (LB) – Given Watford’s poor run of form and the fact that they are playing away from home, their best chance of a goal looks to be from a set-piece. Holebas, who has five assists in the league to date, is a useful exponent of dead-ball situations and his skill in these scenarios is something the Hornets may be dependent upon.
Ken Sema (RM) – The Swede has featured fleetingly for Watford since his summer move from Östersunds FK. However, a goal in his last league game against Bournemouth may be the boost of confidence Sema needs to become a first-team regular.
Etienne Capoue (CM) – Capoue has become an important part of Watford’s midfield, forming a key partnership in the engine room with Abdoulaye Doucouré. Against Palace on Saturday, Capoue must not isolate his back four, with the threat of Zaha and Andros Townsend willing to run in behind them at any opportunity.
Abdoulaye Doucouré (CM) – The Hornets’ aforementioned midfield chemistry between Capoue and Doucouré allows the latter to make strong runs from the centre of the park on the counter-attack. Not only is Doucouré a rangy box-to-box presence, but he also leads his team in passes so far in 2018/19, with 1,113 – which has led to PSG reportedly wanting to sign the 26-year-old.
Roberto Pereyra (LM) – Pereyra’s ability to score and create goals will be an important asset for Javi Gracia and his side in a tricky away fixture. The Argentine has scored six Premier League goals for Watford so far in 2018/19, putting him top of the Hornets’ goal-scoring this season.
Troy Deeney (ST) – Always a nightmare for opposition centre-backs due to his physicality on the ball, Deeney has re-discovered a scoring touch that was deserting him earlier in the season. He has scored three goals in his last two matches, a tally he will be hoping to add to on Saturday.
Gerard Deulofeu (ST) – The diminutive Spaniard, who offers a different threat to Deeney with his searing pace, will be hoping he can complement his captain and provide Watford with their first league victory in four matches.
The predicted lineup for Watford’s game against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday.