The Away Block Report: Southampton 2 – 0 Crystal Palace

By - Saturday 28th September, 2013

Palace’s tough start continues on the south coast

Photo by Ingy the Wingy. Image used under Creative Commons License.

Patience will be the word on the lips of every Palace fan as two goals in quick succession after the half time break condemned the Eagles to their fifth defeat from the first six matches.

Looking behind the scoreline, heart should be taken from the start Palace’s opposition had to Premier League life just a year ago. Southampton only secured four points from their opening eleven matches in the 2012/13 season, before finishing the season in fourteenth place. Following this result, the Saints climbed into the Champions League spots in fourth position. As unlikely as it will be that Southampton will finish the season there, the Premier League is a closer race than it was a few years ago, and things can be turned around quickly. So it can be from Palace.

Nevertheless, the Eagles will be disappointed with a number of aspects of the match. Both conceded goals were again soft, and, like last week’s game against Swansea, came at the start of the half. The first came from a suicidal back pass by (normally) Mr. Reliable, Mile Jedinak. The Australian, and the centre backs, have displayed a worrying tendency to play risky balls on the edge of their box in previous matches. This was punished most infamously against Manchester United; Southampton took similar advantage, with new signing Dani Osvaldo taking possession, shrugging off Dikgacoi and finishing with aplomb. The second was to follow within a couple of minutes. New England player Rickie Lambert took advantage of a soft free kick as Dikgacoi and Osvaldo came together again, curling in from nearly 25 yards.

Perhaps most disappointing from a Palace aspect was an incident involving striker Marouane Chamakh in the first half; the Moroccan went through on goal following good work by Barry Bannan, before diving with only Saints ‘keeper Boruc to beat. Given the controversy surrounding the antics of Ashley Young during the defeat by Manchester United two weeks ago, this was a particularly bitter pill to swallow, and unnecessary at that. Chamakh was booked.

Most obvious from the first few games is the constant chopping and changing within the team

Despite this, Palace will have been happy enough with how the first half went, matching Southampton in most areas, even if little was created in the way of goal-scoring opportunities. Palace didn’t have a single shot on target – Southampton had little more, Speroni making a good save from a Lambert free-kick, and Joel Ward repeating his play-off heroics with a clear off the line. The second half brought more pressure on the Palace defence, with Jay Rodriguez having a goal ruled out for offside. Again, Palace failed to register a shot on target.

Plenty to mull over for the Eagles before next week’s trip to Anfield to face Liverpool. Most obvious from the first few games is the constant chopping and changing within the team; the best performance against the season, admittedly against a poor Sunderland team, saw a team which looked settled, co-ordinated and confident. Since the controversial defeat against United, the wind has been taken out of Palace sails. Trying to integrate a number of new players into the side will take some time, and although Palace now have a much stronger squad than the start of the season, Ian Holloway has yet to find his best team.

Patience, then, is what is required. Thanks to that win over Sunderland, Palace are still well within touching distance of the teams around them. However, with Sunderland’s sacking of their manager Paulo Di Canio in the week seen by most football fans as a good move for the Wearside club, improvement will have to come soon for the Eagles. A long chat with Southampton staff and players with regards to how they have acquitted themselves so well over the past year would be a good start.

Southampton: Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw; Schneiderlin, Davis (Ward-Prowse, 67′), Wanyama; Osvaldo, Lallana (Ramirez, 86′), Lambert (Rodriguez, 77′).

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Moxey; Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Bannan (Jerome 57′); Gayle (Thomas 58′), Kebe (Phillips 73′), Chamakh.

Goalscorers: Southampton (Osvaldo 47′, Lambert 49′).

Attendance: 30,699

Referee: M. Atkinson.

The Palace Away Fan

The Palace Away Fan

Following Palace over land and sea, The Away Fan is 100% committed to the cause. Often seen catching a train on a rainy Saturday, the Away Fan rarely returns home without a thousand stories to tell. Visiting exotic locations such as Stoke, Hull and Sunderland, this intrepid traveller is the authority on Crystal Palace performances away from SE25.

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