London rivals Crystal Palace and Watford know that a win in today’s Wembley showdown will leave them just one game away from FA Cup glory. Watford would be looking up to Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo to provide the goals that will fire his side closer to a final with Manchester United who defeate Everton 2-1 in the other Wembley semi final Saturday.
Neither Crystal Palace nor Watford has had a standout season in the Premier League, but both Alan Pardew and Quique Sanchez Flores will know just how important today’s match is in terms of a rare shot at silverware for their clubs.
The FA Cup represents a bright end to Palace’s campaign after a disastrous slide in form has seen the Eagles slip from potential Champions League contenders into relegation battlers. Watford are all but safe from the drop despite also hitting a mid-season slump, and Flores could do with a win given the mounting speculation regarding his future at Vicarage Road.
For Palace, Scott Dann has been passed fit after missing the 2-0 defeat at Manchester United on Wednesday. Connor Wickham is in contention having returned for the Eagles off the bench against Arsenal and United, while goalkeeper Julian Speroni could also start having impressed against Louis van Gaal’s side. James McArthur returned from an ankle problem at Old Trafford, but may not start at Wembley.
For Watford, Flores has no injury concerns ahead of today’s game, though Nordin Amrabat will miss out through suspension having been dismissed late on in the 3-1 defeat at West Ham on Wednesday night.
The Watford boss rested a number of key players at the Boleyn Ground, and is likely to restore Ighalo, Troy Deeney, Ben Watson, Etienne Capoue and Allan Nyom to his starting XI. Costel Pantilimon is set to continue as the Hornets’ cup goalkeeper despite being back-up to Heurelho Gomes.