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2017/2018 English Premier League

Crystal Palace move six points clear of drop zone with draw at Watford

Crystal Palace moved six points clear of the Premier League relegation zone after a goalless draw at Watford,

The result did little to take Palace closer to their ambition of preserving their top-flight status as they moved up to 15th with three games remaining.

Both teams also struck the woodwork, but it was Watford who will feel that they deserved all three points.

The hosts, without a victory from their past five games, unexpectedly threatened as early as the fourth minute when the recalled Stefano Okaka beat James Tomkins to Troy Deeney's right-wing cross and headed against the angle.

Deeney, in his more natural role in a front two alongside Okaka, then sent in another cross that Palace's Joel Ward turned toward goal to force goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey into a reaction save.

Roy Hodgson named the same starting XI that had repeatedly stretched Brighton in a 3-2 victory last week, but the absence of Christian Benteke was significant throughout the first 45 minutes as they often struggled to escape their own half.

When James McArthur struggled to clear a corner, Craig Cathcart was gifted a close-range shot but his connection was unconvincing and left Hennessey with little more than a routine save.

Roberto Pereyra also curled both high and wide, and Will Hughes had struck beyond the crossbar with a shot from the edge of the area with Palace seeing only Tomkins head straight at Orestis Karnezis against the run of play until the stroke of half-time.

It was then that Wilfried Zaha was brought down in the area by Abdoulaye Doucoure without being awarded a penalty, and that was followed by Doucoure pushing the forward in response. Even then, there was still time for another effort for Deeney when he struck straight at Hennessey.

Palace improved during the second half, but without creating the clear scoring opportunity they required to significantly ease their relegation fears.

Luka Milivojevic curled a fine free-kick against the same angle as Okaka from the edge of the area after a foul on Zaha by his former teammate Adrian Mariappa.

From another attack, Zaha then went down in the area and was booked. Despite minimal contact from Mariappa, he was already on his way down when Hughes also caught him, and Kavanagh then punished the forward with a yellow card.

Palace's final true sight on goal came in the 69th minute, when Tomkins headed against the right post from Yohan Cabaye's right-wing corner with Karnezis beaten.

Benteke was introduced for McArthur with 10 minutes remaining, but the striker made little impact.

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English Premier League Standings

POS Team GP GD PTS
1 Manchester City 12 +31 32
2 Liverpool 12 +18 30
3 Chelsea 12 +19 28
4 Tottenham Hotspur 12 +10 27
5 Arsenal 12 +11 24
6 AFC Bournemouth 12 +5 20
7 Watford 12 +3 20
8 Manchester United 12 -1 20
9 Everton 12 +4 19
10 Leicester City 12 +1 17
11 Wolverhampton Wanderers 12 -1 16
12 Brighton & Hove Albion 12 -5 14
13 West Ham United 12 -4 12
14 Newcastle United 12 -6 9
15 Burnley 12 -13 9
16 Crystal Palace 12 -9 8
17 Southampton 12 -13 8
18 Cardiff City 12 -14 8
19 Huddersfield Town 12 -16 7
20 Fulham 12 -20 5