How the Watford players fared against Crystal Palace

Heurelho Gomes 7

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Things could have turned ugly and quickly had Gomes not held his nerve, stayed still for as long as possible and saved Christian Benteke’s penalty low to his left. Yes, it was the goalkeeper who gave away the spot-kick but he was sold short by a Sebastian Prodl back pass. Gomes has been criticised for being anchored to his line all too often but he came bravely off his line once in each half to quell danger, most notably in the second when he crashed into the sizeable figures of Benteke and Prodl to collect a Yohan Cabaye free kick. How he was not booked for the conceding the penalty, however, remains a mystery.

Younes Kaboul 6

Watford v Crystal Palace - Premier League - Vicarage Road

There were jeers when, with Watford in their worst slump of the match, the Frenchman passed the ball straight to Jason Puncheon in the first half. He had, just minutes before, played Cabaye onside for the goal after being caught dozing on the far side of the back three. You feared another first-half injury when he went flying over the back of Benteke and landed heavily but he dusted himself down and, soon after, sold Cabaye with a dummy before hitting a lovely cross-field pass to Jose Holebas.

Sebastian Prodl 7

Made the tackle of the match when, in the second half, he stopped Wilfried Zaha driving further into the box box with a perfectly-timed extension of his long left leg. He improvised well in the first half to dispossess Benteke with another outstretched limb despite being on the floor. Blotted his copybook by making a sloppy back pass to Gomes for the penalty but he did win Watford their penalty.

Miguel Britos 7

He was the one charged with dealing with Benteke in the air and he threw himself into the onerous challenge with gusto, landing awkwardly and with a thud at least twice. He was bemused to pick up a second-half booking that rules him out of the game against Tottenham but he had earlier been warned by the excellent Mark Clattenburg.

Daryl Janmaat

Gave away the ball with his first touch and then injured his left groin when chasing back and tackling Zaha to concede a corner after Palace countered quickly.

Valon Behrami 6

Hobbled off after 14 minutes after feeling his left hamstring. He probably wouldn’t have played two games in a week anyway but he’ll definitely be out of the Spurs game now.

Adlene Guedioura 6

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Tried almost every pass in the book against his former club. Played arguably Watford’s pass of the match: a long-raking ball from left to right that dropped perfectly over the head of Joel Ward and into the path of Nordin Amrabat. But his radar was too often awry and he ended up spraying it everywhere. He never stopped trying and did muster a couple of efforts on goal.

Etienne Capoue 5

Yet another game that passed him by. You wanted him to have the kind of influence on the game that his countryman Cabaye did for Palace but he was again peripheral. In his defence he might well be a victim of Watford bypassing their midfield with their direct approach, meaning he has to rely on picking up the bits and pieces rather than being asked to orchestrate the play. Being shunted from No 10 to a more conventional midfield role probably didn’t help either.

Jose Holebas 5

Stormed through the mixed zone after the game chuntering that it was probably the worst game he ever played. He was certainly given the run around by Andros Townsend in the first half and didn’t get close enough to the one-time Watford target, allowing him to wriggle free and tee up the goal for Cabaye. He improved slightly in the second yet still manage to pick up a booking, his eighth of the season, for a late tackle on Jason Puncheon. Not his day.

Nordin Amrabat 7.5

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Boy, Watford will miss him badly when he heads off to the African Cup of Nations next month. He buzzed around with more energy than Harry the Hornet and looks the player most likely to create a goal. Starting on the left before moving to the right amid the tactical reshuffle, Amrabat mixed up his play well by trying to roll his man on the outside or cutting inside, creating that seed of doubt his opponent’s mind. He is a player reborn this season.

Odion Ighalo 6

Unlucky not to win a foul on the edge of the Palace box in the first half after some muscular play. Worked hard, which isn’t something you can always say about the Nigerian, but one scuffed effort and a header he didn’t get enough purchase on was the sum total of his attempts on goal. Granted, the service is hardly first class right now but it’s now 14 Premier League games without a goal at Vicarage Road for the Nigerian.

Substitutes

Juan Zuniga 6

Watford's Juan Camilo Zuniga (left) and Crystal Palace's Joel Ward (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Vicarage Road, Watford.
Watford’s Juan Camilo Zuniga (left) and Crystal Palace’s Joel Ward (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Vicarage Road, Watford.

Brought on at right-wing back to replace Daryl Janmaat, Zuniga popped up in midfield, then in the No 10 role before finally ending up on the left-flank. Produced a couple of neat bits of skill in front of the Sir Elton John stand in the second half and fired one effort wildly over the bar, but largely buzzed around without much impact. The sub suffered the ignominy of being substituted but he was on as early as the fourth minute and had run out of puff.

Troy Deeney 6

He will be relieved now the monkey of his 100th goal is off his back but he still looks someway short of his top form. He looked heavy yesterday and you know something isn’t quite right when he’s being beaten in the air. But the record books won’t document how he played here – it will all be about his 100th goal and quite right, too.

Jerome Sinclair

Brought on for the last six minutes for Zuniga and produced one nice step over on the edge of the box in a very brief cameo.

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