Crystal Palace will look to keep their season trajectory out of the relegation zone going with a win over a stuttering Watford at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
Sam Allardyce’s Eagles may have won two on the trot, but untimely wins for fellow relegation candidates, Hull City, last weekend, means that the pressure to retain their current position of safety at 17th place remains high.
Allardyce has seen it all before, though, and the man who saw Sunderland to an unlikely Premier League survival last season will be confident that he can secure the south London club’s third successive season in the English top-flight.
At 13th, the Hornets may find themselves in a far healthier league position than their weekend opponents but a poor run of form, that has seen them take only a single point from a possible nine, has dented any ambitions they may have had of a top-half finish.
The boys are focused on Watford & Big Sam's been full of praise for the fans.
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) March 17, 2017
Last weekend’s 4-3 home loss to Southampton, in particular, is a result that boss Walter Mazzarri will be hoping to put behind him as they travel to the capital.
Speaking to the media ahead of the fixture, Allardyce outlined his strategy for beating the drop.
"We need to finish top of a league of seven at the bottom of the table and even one or two above that may drop in if we continue with good results,” the former England manager said. “Or Leicester and Swansea continue to pick up victories," he continued.
"This would drag one or two more into the group but to try and finish at the top of that bottom seven is our aim and that would be fantastic."
Did you know #watfordfc have won on their last two trips to Selhurst Park ⁉️
Plenty more facts & figures here ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/c464XqJaOb
— Watford FC (@WatfordFC) March 17, 2017
Mazzarri assured supporters that he is not letting his team take their likelihood of survival for granted.
"I don't want my players to think we're already safe from relegation," he told reporters. "We saw that no game in the Premier League game is easy, anything can happen. We have to pay more attention and not commit any mistakes when we get the advantage," he added.
Team news is that Palace are unlikely to field Patrick van Aanholt (ankle), Mathieu Flamini (groin), Loic Remy (thigh) and Steve Mandanda (knee) while Connor Wickham (knee) is unavailable for the remainder of the season.
Watford are likely to have regained the services of Daryl Janmaat (groin) and Ettienne Capoue, who has overcome a short bout of illness while Costel Pantilimon (ankle) and Nordin Amrabat (ankle) will undergo late fitness tests to ascertain their match readiness.