Resilient Crystal Palace defence and clean sheet key to victory over Watford
Crystal Palace secured a hard-fought three points with only their fourth home win of the season, the first time this season that the club have had consecutive wins at home. While Palace didn't have a shot on target all game, the defensive performance and midfield resilience ensured that the Eagles would continue their good form.
Sam Allardyce has repeatedly made the case that Palace should respect the point, key to which is the need to keep clean sheets. Palace now have their third clean sheet in a row -- Alan Pardew's side secured just five in 38 games. With clean sheets come wins; Palace's players can now see the value in them.
Christian Benteke's lack of confidence in front of goal is troubling. The striker had a number of opportunities to take a shot but, due to a lack of incisiveness, allowed Watford to recover and tackle him. Allardyce has made a point of saying that Benteke's return to goalscoring form would help the club's relegation fight..
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- The manager's defensive mantra has finally taken hold in the side. Palace look like they're playing with purpose now and while Watford's own physicality was difficult to manage at times, it showed that while the new-found resilience isn't always pretty, it's certainly effective.
Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Wayne Hennessey, 7 -- Started the game confidently, collecting crosses and showing greater communication. Made an excellent save in the second half, but also flapped at a long ball that could easily have led to a Watford equaliser.
DF Jeffrey Schlupp, 7 -- Worked well with Wilfried Zaha, providing defensive cover and attacking support throughout the match..
DF Mamadou Sakho, 8 -- It's little wonder that Palace haven't conceded since Sakho arrived in the side. His no-nonsense defending perfectly suits Allardyce's approach.
DF James Tomkins, 8 -- Tomkins has been excellent alongside Sakho. The defender had to be at his best against Troy Deeney.
DF Joel Ward, 8 -- The last year hasn't been entirely easy on Ward with a string of poor performances and a collective failure from the defence. However, since Allardyce has arrived, Ward has shown what a valuable player he can be. This was a very good performance, especially when facing the pace of M'Baye Niang.
MF Luka Milivojevic, 7 -- Faced up to the challenge of Etienne Capoue and won. He provides a reassuring quality to Palace's midfield.
MF Yohan Cabaye, 8 -- Cabaye showed ceaseless energy and tenacity. It was what Palace needed throughout. His set pieces were also a constant threat and it lead to the own goal from Deeney.
MF Jason Puncheon, 7 -- Works so well alongside Cabaye now. Another great performance from the midfielder.
FW - Wilfried Zaha, 8 -- A constant threat. Zaha could have won a penalty just four minutes into the game only for the referee to wave it away; he did well to soak up the repeated fouls without it affecting his game.
FW Christian Benteke, 6 -- Clearly affected by a lack of goals, Benteke's work rate deserved reward.
FW Andros Townsend, 7 -- Not as effective as Zaha offensively but his defensive work helped to keep Palace in the game.
DF Scott Dann, NR -- Replaced Tomkins who took a knock. Did what was needed when he came on.
FW Bakary Sako, NR -- Brought on for Cabaye and made a few decent runs.
DF Damien Delaney, NR -- Provided additional cover for the defensive line.
Robert Sutherland is ESPN FC's Crystal Palace blogger. You can follow him on Twitter @RoDuSu.