February 11, 2016

Those wanting fly-on-the-wall privy to the inner workings of a football club in crisis got exactly what they asked for thanks to Crystal Palace this season as they head into their home match Saturday versus Watford.

Eagles manager Alan Pardew might have cause to rue ever letting the cameras of NBC's "Behind the Badge" documentary through the door.

Having not heeded the warning of previous such endevaours involving England, Leyton Orient and Peterborough United to name a few, Palace's decision to allow all access has somewhat backfired.

Like league leaders Leicester City, both Palace and Watford, Saturday's opponents at Selhurst Park, were seen as surprise success stories of the season.

Then mid-December hit, the cameras arrived at Palace, and the Premier League bubble burst - just not for the Foxes.

With one Premier League win in 16 between them - the Hornets' 2-1 triumph over Newcastle United last month - the sides have each seen a precipitous drop off in form.

Pardew has presided over a run that has seen his side slip from fifth, with the associated talk in challenging for a spot in Europe, to 12th and the outer fringes of a relegation battle.

Unencumbered by the prying lenses, now departed, of the documentary crew, Palace seek a return to their winning ways.

"We need to collect points," said Pardew. "We're at a pivotal part of our season really. In the Cup versus Spurs and a league programme where we're in the middle.

"We need to try to win against a good Watford side, then welcome our guys back and know that we're going to be much better going forward."

Connor Wickham returns from suspension for Palace. Dwight Gayle (hamstring) is also in line to return, but Yannick Bolasie and Bakary Sako are ruled out. James McArthur, feared out for the season due to an ankle injury, may return before the end of the campaign but is out this weekend.

Since four wins on the trot from late November into early December, the Hornets (9-6-10) have won just once in their last eight league games, drawing twice and losing the other five.

Having already seen his side lose to Palace this campaign through Yohan Cabaye's late penalty at Vicarage Road on Sept. 27, Hornets manager Quique Sanchez Flores showed restraint in assessing his side's chances for Saturday.

"We respect Crystal Palace a lot," Sanchez Flores told the official club website. "I was very impressed when they played against us at Vicarage Road. Okay, they are now in a bad run, like us, but they have a very good coach, they have very good players, and we respect them a lot.

"We need to try to look for our best performance, and I think that very quickly we are going to come back with a good run."

Watford will be without defenders Joel Ekstrand and Miguel Britos (leg) and goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin (knee).Palace (9-5-11) has won seven of their last 10 meetings with Watford in all competitions, losing just once and drawing twice.

Watford lone victory in that span was a 3-2 triumph at Selhurst Park in August 2012.

The last time these sides were in the same division came in the 2012-13 Championship season. Watford took four points off the Eagles, only to lose in the Playoff final at Wembley thanks to Kevin Phillips's stoppage-time penalty.

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