Date: 24th April 2016 at 8:30am
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With both sides on the verge of preserving their Premier League status for another year; Crystal Palace and Watford will switch their attentions to the FA Cup in Sunday afternoon’s semi-final clash at Wembley Stadium.

The Eagles, who went down 2-0 at Old Trafford against Manchester United in midweek, hover nine points above the relegation zone ahead of their final three league fixtures.

Meanwhile the Hornets, who lost 3-1 at West Ham United on Wednesday, sit just four places higher and two points above Alan Pardew’s side having played a game less.

Despite slumping in the bottom-half of the English top-flight, both sides have endured marvellous FA Cup runs to give their fans welcome relief and excitement due to the possibility of lifting silverware come the end of the season.

The last time both teams met each other inside Wembley was during the 2012-13 Championship play-off final, where the Eagles triumphed 1-0 after extra-time to win promotion to the Premier League.

But Watford have lost only one of six previous FA Cup ties against Palace; a 1-0 fifth-round defeat after extra-time back in 1995.

On the other hand, Palace have won seven of their last 11 meetings with the Hornets in all competitions – drawing the other two and losing twice.

Sunday’s encounter is the first time Pardew’s club have reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 21 years, when they lost 2-0 to Manchester United in a replay. Their only last-four victory came back in 1990, when the Londoners brilliantly fought past Liverpool 4-3, with current manager Pardew scoring the winning goal.

The game also offers a great opportunity for the club’s goalkeepers, in which Palace could keep four successive clean sheets in the FA Cup for the first time since 1924. Shot stopper Wayne Hennessey has conceded only one goal in four cup ties this campaign, so far.

Meanwhile for the Hornets, this is the fifth time they have reached the last-four of the FA Cup, although they have lost on four of those occasions.

Watford, however, did progress to the final back in 1984 after fending off Plymouth Argyle in the semi-finals.

More encouragingly for Quique Sanchez Flores’ side is the fact that they defeated back-to-back holders Arsenal in the quarter-finals at the Emirates Stadium last month.

Team News:

Yannick Bolasie, Scott Dann, Joel Ward and Joe Ledley all look set to feature for Palace having shaken off minor knocks that saw them miss the midweek defeat at Old Trafford.

Midfielder James McArthur made his comeback at Manchester United, but he is not expected to be risked from the starting whistle.

Meanwhile Hornets strikers Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo are expected to return to the starting line-up after being rested in midweek.

However winger Nordin Amrabat is suspended following his red card at West Ham.

League Positions: Crystal Palace – 16th (39 pts); Watford – 12th (41 pts)
Previous Meeting: Crystal Palace 1-2 Watford – February 13, 2016; Premier League
Form: Crystal Palace – LDWDDL; Watford – WLLDWL
Key Men: Crystal Palace – Yannick Bolasie; Watford – Troy Deeney
Shoot Says: Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford

 
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