Patrick Vieira believes a number of the Watford players will be “playing for their careers” when they take on his Crystal Palace side at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
Watford’s relegation from the Premier League could be confirmed when they travel to boss Roy Hodgson’s former club, with the Hornets needing favourable results elsewhere, a goal difference swing and wins in all of their remaining matches to remain in the top flight.
However, despite the Hornets’ situation, Vieira expects them to come out fighting.
“Mathematically still anything can happen so while there is hope I expect them to be fighting,” the Crystal Palace boss said.
“We expect them to work hard.
“When you get to this position players are playing for their careers and some are playing to have different opportunities at the end of the season.
“There won’t be a lot of space for us to express ourselves. We’ll have to move the ball quickly.”
Watford are on their third manager of the season in Hodgson, and the Crystal Palace boss believes taking over when the 74-year-old did was always going to be a challenge.
Vieira said: “It’s always difficult going to a team in the middle of the season, especially when they’re not doing well. Stability will help you have success.
“When going to a team struggling it’s always a massive challenge and it’s going to be difficult for any manager.”
Wilfried Zaha scored when he was used in a more central role against Southampton, however Vieira admitted the forward will have to be persuaded to adopt the role.
Vieira added: “We had a few conversations about it. He doesn’t say no but it takes time for him to buy into it.
“Wilfried loves football so you can put him on the right, he will complain and still do the job. Put him at the nine and he’ll do the same. He’s good because he can play all three positions.”