Before dozing off into your summer slumber without English football, there is still one match remaining that deserves your recognition, today’s Championship play-off final between Crystal Palace and Watford.
The two sides meet at Wembley on Monday to decide which club will fill the Premier League’s 20th and final spot. Cardiff City and Hull City have already won promotion with the former clinching the top spot in the Championship after an 0-0 draw against Charlton Athletic on April 17th and the later securing on a dramatic final day of the season.
It was that final day that caused such agony for Gianfranco Zola’s Watford side, who, in their feverish search for a winner against Leeds, ended up losing after replacement keeper Jack Bonham was lobbed by Ross McCormack on a counter-attack. Forced to settle for third place, Watford lost the first leg of the Championship semi-final 1-0 at Leicester City before storming back for a 3-1 second leg victory against The Foxes to win 3-2 on aggregate.
Palace finished fifth in the Championship meaning the Eagles needed to get by a semi-final matchup with rivals Brighton & Hove Albion to reach the final. After a 0-0 draw at Palace’s Selhurst Park, things looked bleak for Ian Holloway’s men. But a fantastic brace by Wilfried Zaha in the return leg secured Palace a match-up with Watford in the final.
Today’s tie will be the final one for Zaha in a Palace shirt as he is set to complete a £15 million ($22.7m) switch to Manchester United after the match. The talented 20 year old winger come striker has been carrying an ankle knock but should be fit for his final match for the South London club.
Holloway’s squad will need a big match from the United bound player as 30 goal striker Glenn Murray is out for six months with a knee injury while fellow striker Stephen Dobbie has been forced to return to Brighton after his loan deal expired. Captain Paddy McCarthy also remains out with a groin injury, joining full-back Jonathan Parr who is recovering from ankle ligament damage.
The injuries put the Eagles behind the eight-ball as Watford enter the match with a relatively clean bill of health and feeling fresh after a four day trip to Marbella last week.
The match can be seen in the U.S. at 9:55 a.m. on beIN Sport.
Crystal Palace Projected XI: Speroni; Ward, Delaney, Gabbidon, Moxey; Dikgacoi, Jedinak; Zaha, Garvan, Williams; Wilbraham.
Watford Projected XI: Almunia; Doyley, Ekstrand, Cassetti; Anya, Abdi, Hogg, Chalobah, Briggs; Deeney, Vydra.