Pardew thinking big as Palace’s incredible away form continues

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WATFORD — With a grin on his face and a spring in his step, Alan Pardew was a happy man after Crystal Palace’s 1-0 win at Watford on Saturday.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned from Palace’s win ]

The Eagles battled to a hard-fought victory at Vicarage Road, with Yohan Cabaye‘s penalty kick the difference between the two sides as Palace’s phenomenal away record under Pardew continues. The South London native praised his sides professionalism and hailed their calm approach as they edged out a spirited Watford outfit.

Since the former Newcastle boss took charge last January the Eagles have won nine out of their 12 away games in the PL, with their pacey counter-attacking style making them perfect to catch opponents cold.

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Pardew agreed, but revealed in his post-match press conference that he told his team to approach this match a little differently.

“We have good players for an away team because we have pace in the team,” Pardew said. “But I said to the guys today, let’s not retreat in any shape or form today as an away team. Let’s play it as a neutral ground and take the game to Watford. It made the game very even in the opening 45 minutes, which was not great entertainment because the game was so tight, but we didn’t concede any ground and possession to Watford. In the end that bode well for us because it let us grow in confidence and in the end we found some hot pockets.”

One of the only criticisms Pardew had of Palace was that the winning margin could have been greater on Sunday. The Eagles have only scored nine times in the opening seven games this season and the former Palace player is urging his side to be more clinical in front of goal, as Dwight Gayle went close three times in the second half and rattled the frame of the goal from close range.

“I think perhaps Dwight [Gayle] should have scored on one of the chances but I was really pleased with his performance today,” Pardew told ProSoccerTalk. “He will always score goals. It’s the other side of the game, how we can get him in the game and release him away from home. I felt we had some answers for that today and I was really pleased with him. Yeah, you could argue that we should score more goals but we have [Marouane] Chamakh injured, we have Connor Wickham injured. At Crystal Palace they are two major players. That is like [Daniel] Sturridge and [Christian] Benteke for Liverpool for us, so we are still missing some players but I can’t argue today. I thought the guys did a great job.

As for Palace’s aims for this season — Pardew previously stated he would like to see his side challenge for a top six finish — they are right on track following their win against Watford. The Eagles sit in sixth spot on 12 points after the opening seven games of the campaign and are just four points off first-placed Manchester United. Next up is a home game against former Palace boss Tony Pulis next weekend and if the Eagles win against West Bromwich Albion they could be as high as second in the standings.

“It’s a good return, whichever way you look at it,” Pardew said of the points tally. “We find ourselves on 12 points with a game at home coming up. We are going to try and exploit that because we’ve not always done that. It’s Tony [Pulis] coming as well so we know there will be extra resilience in that West Brom team. It’s a big game for us. We kick off early and it is a chance to find ourselves in a very nice position if we can win it.”