Watford v Crystal Palace Preview: Open encounter to kick off Boxing Day

There is a serious feast of festive football on offer to punters this Boxing Day and the action gets underway at Vicarage Road as Watford host Crystal Palace.

There is an extra layer of intrigue to this game as Sam Allardyce will take charge of the Eagles for the first time following his appointment, replacing Alan Pardew in the visitors’ dugout.

Paddy Power go 19/10 (2.90) that the former England manager oversees a victory in his first game in charge. That’s something that Palace have only managed twice in their previous 19 Premier League games on the road and that kind of form undoubtedly played a big part in Pardew’s departure.

Watford are the favourites to make it a losing debut for the new boss, only just though, priced at 6/4 (2.50) with the same firm while it’s 9/4 (3.25) that the two teams settle for a share of the spoils. That price could appeal to some given that the Hornets have already taken some notable scalps at this venue, seeing off Leicester City, Everton and Manchester United this term.

The best bet though, could be to back and open game. Paddy Power are going 11/10 (2.10) that the game features three or more goals, that’s a wager which has landed in eight of Palace’s last nine games in the league and in six of Watford’s eight at Vicarage Road this season.

Palace may only be one place above the relegation zone coming into this game but scoring goals hasn’t been an issue for them this season. Indeed, they boast the best tally of any team in the bottom half of the division, a remarkable record given their standing and they’ll expect to make their mark here against a side missing influential defender Sebastian Prodl.

The big issue though, has been at the other end of the pitch where the visitors have leaked 32 times in 17 matches, that’s an average of 1.88 per game and while they have made a managerial change, it seems unlikely that Allardyce will immediately fix that defensive fragility.

Given how regularly goals have flowed in Palace’s games, it’s unsurprising to see both teams to score at just 8/11 (1.73) and should only add more weight to the value behind taking the 11/10 (2.10) about over 2.5 goals.

Chasing a bigger return? One key factor could be Palace’s inability to restrict their opposition from set pieces, the Eagles have leaked 9 times from those situations, 32% of their tally this season so it could be worth taking a long odds punt on a Watford centre back such as Younes Kaboul at 14/1 (15.0) anytime.

Team news is crucial with such wagers but with Prodl looking very likely to miss out, someone like Kaboul could benefit and is worth chancing at a massive price.

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