Match Preview: Southampton vs Crystal Palace

By - Friday 27th September, 2013

Matt Woosnam previews the Eagles’ visit to St. Mary’s

Photo by IMP1. Image used under Creative Commons License.

The last time Palace made the journey down to the South coast, they cemented their place in the Championship play-off final with a victory over arch rivals Brighton. This time the trip is a little further West, with the small matter of Premier League points up for grabs as they face a Southampton side riding high in the table in seventh place. The Saints have picked up eight points from their five matches so far, tasting defeat only once, whilst Palace have just a sole victory and three points from their opening matches.

Damien Delaney hobbled off at half-time against Swansea so looks likely to miss out on Saturday with an ankle injury. Should Joel Ward be fit in time, then he will take Adrian Mariappa’s spot at right-back with the former Watford man moving into the centre alongside Danny Gabbidon.

Kagisho Dikgacoi returns from the one match suspension he received for being cheat… fouling Ashley Young at Old Trafford and is expected to take up his position alongside Mile Jedinak in the centre of midfield, perhaps taking the place of Adlene Guedioura and leaving Barry Bannan to complete the midfield three. Marouane Chamakh is likely to continue as the lone striker, but with Jason Puncheon unable to face his parent club Dwight Gayle, Jimmy Kebe and Jerome Thomas will fight it out to replace him. Whether Ian Holloway will continue with Cameron Jerome on the wing is questionable given his limited impact against Swansea.

Southampton may include two former Palace players in Jose Fonte and academy graduate Nathaniel Clyne

Palace will need to improve dramatically from Sunday’s defeat to Swansea if they are to have any chance of taking something from the match, but a particular area where they were ineffective was on the wings. Without Joel Ward’s attacking prowess from right-back Palace were stifled on the wings, with no out and out wingers on the pitch following Holloway’s tactic of wide men cutting inside and leaving the full backs to push forward. This was a catastrophic failure and needs to be addressed, but thus far there have been no signs of it changing, so Palace will have to hope that the cutting inside tactic proves more fruitful.

Southampton may include two former Palace players in Jose Fonte and academy graduate Nathaniel Clyne. The pair were highly regarded during their time at the club and should receive an excellent reception from the travelling fans. Both have begun the season well, Clyne regaining his place following injury and Fonte putting the disappointment of a lack of involvement last season behind him to impress in the heart of defence alongside new signing Dejan Lovren.

£12m signing Victor Wanyama should start in midfield alongside Adam Lallana. Rickie Lambert, fresh from his goals for the England national team will lead the line and is dangerous both for his finishing ability but also his hold up play, so he will prove a handful for Palace’s centre-backs. Partnering him up front may be former Burnley star Jay Rodriguez and another big money signing Pablo Osvaldo.

The Saints’ team looks on paper to be extremely strong and effective, with no real weaknesses. However, if Palace can play their own game well rather than looking to stop Southampton from playing theirs then they may steal a victory at St Mary’s.

Southampton vs. Crystal Palace – St. Mary’s Stadium, Saturday 28th September, Kick-off 3pm. Away end tickets are sold out.

Matt Woosnam

Matt Woosnam

Matt Woosnam is a Kingston University student in his final year as a Politics & International Relations undergraduate. A campaigner on mental health he is the founder of @Talk_Out, as well as part of the TalkEasyTrust, and seeks to break down stigma by encouraging talking out. Matt is also an avid Crystal Palace fan and the online editor of Five Year Plan Fanzine, as well as a regular contributor to the Croydon Guardian.

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