The first fixture of the bumper Boxing Day calendar is at Vicarage Road play host to Crystal Palace and the focus will undoubtedly be on former England manager Sam Allardyce as he makes his managerial debut for the South London club.
After Alan Pardew’s sacking on Thursday, Chairman Steve Parrish has moved quickly to bring in a new man to the helm and that man is none other than Big Sam. That appointment means that Allardyce has now taken charge of six Premier League clubs and he will hope for a winning start when they make the short trip to Watford this lunchtime.
Hosts Watford will be looking for some Christmas cheer as they go into this game on the back of successive defeats, a string of results which has seen them move out of the top half of the table and down to 12th in the Premier League.
The fact that Troy Deeney has not scored in his last ten Premier League outings will no doubt be of concern to Walter Mazzari. Club captain Deeney obviously offers a whole lot more than just goals in his all round game but to go over a quarter of a season without finding the net will be an issue he will want to resolve later today.
Especially as Deeney is still stuck on 99 goals for the club. He would have thought that the 100 would have come by now, perhaps the fact that the next goal will be such a landmark for player and club it is playing on his mind too much hence the goal drought.
Last time out it was defeat to Sunderland at The Stadium of Light as David Moyes’ men got an all important win in their own battle to stay up and one that close the gap between themselves and Crystal Palace. A result which in fairness was probably the fail nail in the coffin for Alan Pardew.
Both Watford and Crystal Palace sunk like a stone at the turn of the year last season and it was only the first half of the season’s results which kept them safe from relegation. With Palace now 17th the fear will be that they don’t have the buffer required for a terrible run of results and therefore could be in real trouble.
And with Pardew’s habit of being an incredibly streaky manager in terms of results it was felt that his time was up at Selhurst Park. Therefore step forward the Premier League firefighter known as Sam Allardyce. Last year it was Sunderland and now he has to make sure it’s Crystal Palace.
After the furore which surrounded Allardyce’s departure from England it seems as the price of relegation from the Premier League is too big and how short memories club chairman seem to have as they do everything they can to make sure that their club beats the drop.
And Allardyce will have to do everything he can to turn around a team that has only won once in their last 10 matches. A run of results which seems them just a point above the dreaded drop zone as we go into the busy Christmas period.
Can Palace get the new manager bounce that so many other clubs seem to be graced with. They certainly have the talent in which to get a result and with Watford seemingly lacking form of their own I think The Hornets will be there for the taking. I’m going to go for the perfect start under Big Sam as Palace get a vital three points. An away win.