Crystal Palace v Watford Betting Preview
There are two sides here who have had play off winning experience before and it is Gianfranco Zola’s Hornets who are favourites to join Cardiff and Hull in next season’s top flight. Watford finishing five points ahead of Palace in the regular season standings, missing out on automatic promotion on the final day of the season, crucially losing to Leeds. Wins towards the end of the season were escaping Crystal Palace, but both have struck back at the right time to set themselves up for the Wembley showcase.
Crystal Palace v Watford Betting Odds at online bookmaker Sportingbet
Watford 5/4, Crystal Palace 12/5, Draw 23/10
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Crystal Palace v Watford Recommended Bet:
Everything is pretty much coming full circle for this one, as Palace faced Watford on the opening day of the Championship season. Crystal Palace was on the losing end of that one, before taking a point away from the return to Vicarage Road later in the season. Palace have a double strike from Manchester United-bound Wilfried Zaha to thank for their place in the final, after his goals scored a second leg win over Brighton after the first leg had ended goalless. Ian Holloway’s men have been one of the strong promotion candidates all season, but their strong first half of the season fell away and they ended up struggling just a little bit towards the finish line. Palace won just one of the last ten in their Championship season before heading to the play offs. Their defence has stood up though with three clean sheets in the last four.
This will be Crystal Palace’s fifth Championship play off final, the most appearances there by any club. They are also the most successful side of the Championship play offs, having won three times. Unfortunately for Palace, the Championship top goalscorer Glenn Murray will miss the game for them because of a knee injury, which is a massive blow. Despite their past successes, the Eagles are underdogs for this one. There is even more bad news for Palace, in that the team finishing fourth in the league standings, have only won promotion in 15% of all Championships play offs. It is the jinxed position really, as the fourth placed team have taken the most losing finalist positions in Play Off Finals in the Championship. It’s not the spot to finish in really if you want promotion to the Premier League.
There is much better news for Watford, who finished third in the league. Teams finishing third have won the play offs most often (38% of all Championship play offs) and not only that, but five of the last seven Championship play off finals have all been won by the side who finished the regular season in third. The last two Championship finals have both been won by the third placed team (Swansea and West Ham). Watford were the top scorers in the Championship this season by some distance, and they are the only side to have finished with two players on twenty goals or more. One of them, Troy Deeney has netted six goals in his last nine matches now for Watford. They have given away a league high total of 12 penalties this season, including play off matches. There was a dramatic winner for Watford, seven minutes into injury time in the second leg of their semi final against Leicester after losing the first leg 1-0.
This will be Watford’s third Championship play off final, winning both of the other two. Both of Watford’s promotions to the Premier League game seven years apart. 2013 is now another seven years on from their last promotion to the top flight in 2006. They should have enough firepower to see off Palace, who are crucially missing Glenn Murray. There have been plenty of goals in previous meetings between these two so Over 2.5 Goals is value trading at a price of Evens at online bookmaker Sportingbet.
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Crystal Palace DDDWDW, Watford LWWLW
The last ten meetings have averaged 3.8 goals per game between the two sides
The team who scored first in both league meetings this season didn’t go on to win
Crystal Palace have reached more Championship play off finals than any other side
The team finishing 3rd in the regular season have won the most play off finals