Crystal Palace 1 Watford 2: Quique Sanchez Flores will continue experimenting with Watford’s shape as his team move to the brink of retaining their Premier League status.
Saturday’s victory, when Troy Deeney scored in each half either side of Emmanuel Adebayor’s header, took Watford up to eighth place on 36 points, and ultimately to within four points of the total widely recognised as required to ensure survival.
They host Leeds in the FA Cup fifth round this week, when Sanchez Flores is again expected to rotate, and after making four changes to his starting XI and adopting a new 4-3-3 formation, the Spaniard said he wants to continue testing his team.
“It’s two plus one (up front), it’s the first time we used this shape,” the Watford manager said. “I’d like to work with more time in this system, because it’s necessary to know the quality of moves, the pressure when you put the block behind the ball, it’s very important.
“We had the necessary conduct with the system to move the players. It’s good. In the first half we had the feeling we are a positive team, an offensive team. At the moment we keep the ball in the middle, and we can play with three strikers (Deeney, Odion Ighalo and Nordin Amrabat) practically, so we feel comfortable.
“This is a little bit different than the other systems, the 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 that we play.
“(Saturday’s win was) very important for us, it means we are very close to the target, to keep Watford in the Premier League next year.
Alan Pardew similarly experimented with his team, when he surprisingly recalled Connor Wickham after he completed his three-match suspension, and sacrificed Chung-yong Lee to start the striker on the left wing.
“It just didn’t work for us,” Pardew said. “We’re trying to find a balance with Connor in the team, and we thought that might work, with that balance, but it didn’t.
“Sometimes you’ve got to say ‘It didn’t work’. We need to have a little bit more work on our team to make sure the balance, getting that mixture right of being quite direct, positive - we’re a big side - but we can’t rely on set plays, we have to play, and that was the problem in the first half, we were going for percentage balls rather than risky balls.”
Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare, Zaha, Cabaye, Jedinak, Mutch (Campbell 73), Wickham (Lee 46), Adebayor.
Subs not used:
Speroni, Mariappa, Chamakh, Kelly, Boateng.
Gomes, Nyom, Prodl, Cathcart, Ake, Capoue (Mario Suarez 71), Watson, Behrami, Amrabat (Abdi 62), Ighalo, Deeney.
Subs not used:
Paredes, Guedioura, Pantilimon, Anya, Holebas.
Robert Madley (West Yorkshire).
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