Crystal Palace to prepare like the Watford game will happen – Patrick Vieira

Palace are next in action at Watford, who are dealing with a coronavirus outbreak.
Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira after the 2-2 draw with Southampton (Adam Davy/PA)

Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira after the 2-2 draw with Southampton (Adam Davy/PA)

By George Sessions, PA

Patrick Vieira says Crystal Palace will prepare as normal for Saturday’s match with Watford despite the game being in doubt.

The Hornets were unable to face Burnley on Wednesday night as an outbreak of coronavirus cases in their squad led to the fixture being called off hours before kick-off.

A decision over the Turf Moor fixture was made by the Premier League Board after Watford had an “insufficient number of first-team players available to fulfil the match” which raises the possibility this weekend’s clash with Palace will also be curtailed given the isolation period required for positive cases.

“The main focus was to make the best selection for this game,” Vieira said after their 2-2 draw with Southampton on Wednesday.

“We saw the Watford game (at Burnley) was postponed so for us we have to keep preparing ourselves until then and wait for what the Premier League will have to say.

“Our plan for the rest of the week will not change and we will prepare like the game will happen.”

Goals from Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew earned Palace a point at home to Southampton.

The duo were among those at Selhurst Park to contract coronavirus last season, but the Eagles have largely been able to steer clear of further positive cases during this campaign.

Vieira praised the continued sacrifices of his players during the escalating situation in the country, with the new Omicron variant producing a record number of infections while three Premier League matches have been called off during the last week.

He added: “I don’t think it is just about football, it is the cases in the country.

“Every club, like ourselves, tries to do the best to avoid those cases. We have a protocol that we are following.

“Our doctor and medical staff are behind the players and trying to make them understand how important it is to put aside our social life at the moment.

“So far the players are doing a good job but we have to be consistent every day and every week until things will get better.”

First-half strikes by James Ward-Prowse and Armando Broja were not enough to end Southampton’s wait for another Premier League victory.

It is now six matches since the Saints last won in the top flight but the form of Broja has been a major positive, with the Chelsea loanee the club’s leading goalscorer with six in all competitions.

Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl said: “You see how important Broj is for our team.

“I am not surprised because I see him in every session. After his slow start, he was definitely showing up.

“I think this is what we are known for, that young players get here a very good atmosphere to develop, they get all they need to keep developing and all the inputs they need to get better.

“You can feel and see that his qualities are absolutely there. More and more he puts it on the pitch and this is what we need.”


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