Crystal Palace will be looking to secure their first victory of the new campaign when they travel to Vicarage Road to take on Watford in the second round of the Carabao Cup tonight.
A 3-0 defeat to Chelsea and a goalless draw with Brentford have marked the beginning of Patrick Vieira’s reign in south London, and the new manager will be eager to build on their much-improved performance last time out.
Despite keeping a clean sheet against the newly-promoted Bees and looking relatively solid throughout, Palace couldn’t find the back of the net themselves and will be searching for the first goal of Vieira’s reign tonight.
The former Nice manager outlined his intention to select a strong starting XI against Watford in his post-match press conference in order to build some momentum going into a tricky league season.
“It’s important for us to win football matches,” he said. “To win football matches will give us confidence for the rest of the season. We are at the beginning of the season, players are feeling strong, are feeling good, there are two games before the international break, and we will play these two games with the best starting XI I have.
“We will play all the games with the desire to win it; I don’t think we can choose which competition we can go into. As a football club, we don’t have this privilege; we have to take one game after the other. The next one is on Tuesday, and we will put (out) a strong team to compete.
“It’s important for us to build momentum, it’s important for us to build our confidence, it’s important for us to win football matches, to win games. Our objective is to win the next one,” Vieira concluded.
With that in mind, here’s how Football FanCast expects the Frenchman to line up at Vicarage Road, with six changes from the side which started against Brentford…
In goal, former England international goalkeeper Jack Butland is likely to come into the team in place of regular first-choice Vicente Guaita. The 28-year-old is among the most experienced backup shot-stoppers in the division and will be eager to impress in this midweek encounter.
Ahead of him is likely to be a back four made up of a couple of experienced heads and two of talented youngsters. James Tomkins and Martin Kelly should replace Joachim Andersen and Joel Ward, partnering the highly-rated Tyrick Mitchell and Marc Guehi in defence.
The engine room will have a more familiar feel, with 33-year-old James McArthur making way for Jairo Riedewald, who will provide cover for the duo of Conor Gallagher and Cheikhou Kouyate.