Deeney double helps Watford condemn Crystal Palace to another defeat
Crystal Palace's two-month wait for a Premier League victory goes on after two goals from Troy Deeney inspired Watford to a 2-1 win at Selhurst Park.
Watford captain Deeney, recalled to the starting XI, scored a first-half penalty and added an impressive second late on to take Watford's points total to 36 and his team to the brink of safety.
Emmanuel Adebayor headed his first goal for Palace before Deeney's winner, but again the Eagles, who finished with 10 men after Pape Souare's late dismissal, suffered from a lack of goals.
Palace manager Alan Pardew had earlier spoken of his belief that his team's recent struggles -- they last won in the league on Dec. 19 -- owed much to the absences at various periods of Yannick Bolasie, Yohan Cabaye and Connor Wickham.
Cabaye returned for last week's 1-1 draw at Swansea and Wickham was again available following suspension, but it was still surprising that Pardew recalled new signing Adebayor in place of Chung-yong Lee on the left of his front three.
Unlike Palace, and despite losing 1-0 to Tottenham last Saturday, Watford already appear to have recovered from their own midseason inconsistencies.
But manager Quique Sanchez Flores made seven changes to his team in recalling Deeney, Sebastian Prodl and Valon Behrami, and gave a first league start to January signing Nordin Amrabat.
If there was a temptation to suspect Watford would be unsettled by those changes, it quickly subsided with their intelligent use of possession and Palace's flat start.
Even with Cabaye in Palace's midfield, Watford patiently retained the ball and frustrated their opponents, so the nature of the opening goal perhaps came as little surprise.
From Ben Watson's 16th-minute corner, Palace's Mile Jedinak dragged Deeney to the ground, leaving referee Robert Madley with no option but to award a penalty. Deeney calmly sent it to Wayne Hennessey's left as the goalkeeper went right.
Palace required a moment of inspiration, and it arrived from nowhere as Adebayor headed high beyond former Tottenham teammate Heurelho Gomes on his third appearance for his latest team.
Recognising Lee's greater comfort on the left wing and that Wickham had otherwise scarcely contributed, Pardew replaced the striker at half-time, and with Lee's presence they rediscovered the mobility they so often thrive with.
Lee forced a reaction save from Gomes in the 79th minute when unexpectedly shooting from a wide free-kick, but again a winning goal eluded Palace and they were punished.
In the 82nd minute, Watson crossed from the right into Palace's penalty area and, after a deflection, Deeney impressively controlled possession before shooting under Hennessey to seal victory.
In the closing minutes, Cabaye's volley struck the post from the edge of the area before Souare was rightly sent off for a two-footed challenge on Behrami.