Saints 1-0 Palace
Alan Pardew’s 100% away record came to an undeserved end at St Marys as a late Sadio Mane goal secured all three points for Southampton. The Senegal international’s strike ended a 387 minute scoreless run for Southampton at home but it was a gift from the Crystal Palace.
James Ward-Prowse, on as a late sub, was given the freedom of St Marys by the Palace midfield as he drove towards the box with not a yellow shirt in sight. His shot was poor but Julian Speroni could not hold on to the tame effort and the ball fell kindly for Mane who completed the simple task of lifting the ball over the floor stricken Argentine stopper.
The first half was one way traffic with Southampton dominated possession but showing the lack of creativity in front of goal that makes the goal drought understandable. The Palace defence looked comfortable but one golden chance did fall to, scoreless in eleven, Graziano Pelle. The ball dropped to the Italian six yards from goal after a Speroni save but he could not take advantage.
"Palace’s mini striker crisis was the main contributor to Southampton’s dominance."
Palace’s mini striker crisis was the main contributor to Southampton’s dominance. With Glenn Murray (suspended), Marouane Chamakh, Yaya Sanogo and Fraizer Campbell (all injured) all missing the lack of a strong physical presence up top meant that the ball didn’t stick. Yannick Bolasie was moved into the middle, with Dwight Gayle going wide, halfway through the first half and this was when the game started to change, slowly at first, before the Eagles turned into the team that looked more likely to take the three points in the second half.
After the break Palace soaked up the very manageable Southampton pressure and hit on the counter with pace. Fraser Forster denied Jason Puncheon and then Bolasie before Wilfried Zaha struck the inside of the post and Bolasie hit the follow up just wide.
In his post-match press conference Pardew was suggesting that Palace should have had a penalty for a foul by ex-Palace man Jose Fonte on Bolasie, however, it turns out I was drunker than I thought as I cannot recall the incident no matter how hard I try so unfortunately I cannot shed a single thread of light on this.
At the full time whistle the yellow shirted players dropped to the floor, visibly gutted at having lost a game that so easily could have gone the other way. Whilst immediate term they are disappointed with the result, longer term they should be very encouraged with the way performances are moving on leaps and bounds under Pardew.
Time to drop Speroni?
Unfortunately this has to be addressed as yet another piece of sloppy play from the stopper has resulted in a goal. The list of ‘could have done better’ incidents is growing:
- Vs Southampton: Spills Ward-Prowse shot straight to Mane for the only goal of the game.
- Vs West Ham: Strong hand to Valencia’s strike. Disappointing that he has not diverted it wide.
- Vs Arsenal: Pushes a Welbeck shot straight into the path of Grioud for Arsenal’s second goal.
- Vs Liverpool: Pushes a Balotelli free kick straight into the path of Lallana for Liverpool’s second goal.
- Vs Everton: Pushes a Naismith cross straight into Lukaku for the only goal of the game.
Of course, criticism of the Valencia and Lukaku goals can rightly be considered harsh and he is probably more unlucky in these two instances than anything else. The other three he should certainly be doing considerably better.
"Did he look 'past it' at Upton Park on the weekend as he flew into the top corner to save from Valencia?"
What does make me laugh is that people have extremely short memories in football these days. Social networking is awash with people suggesting that he is past it and sounding like they want him hung drawn and quartered at the Tower. Did he look 'past it' at Upton Park on the weekend as he flew into the top corner to save from Valencia? Did he look past it when he spread himself to deny Jenkinson in the same game?
There is a very big difference between being ‘out of form’ and ‘past it’. Jules is the former, not the latter.
The question for me is if it is time to rest him? Look at the Courtois at Chelsea. He started off the season well but then made a few errors, got rested for a few games and now he looks back to his best. This is the age old way that it is done with outfield players who hit poor form but it seems far less frequent with keepers.
I’d say bring Hennessey in for a couple of games and then put Jules back in the fray as a costly mistake against QPR really could be a problem for how Speroni is viewed for the rest of the season.
What is Martin Kelly doing here as Ward-Prowse shoots? Answers on a postcard.
Mile Jedinak and Glenn Murray were both superb at West Ham and instrumental in our win. The annoying thing is their subsequent suspensions cost us dearly in this game. With Southampton struggling to create anything, Jediank would have only made any efforts from the Saints more laboured and there is absolutely no way that Ward-Prowse would have been afforded as much space as he was for the goal if the skipper was on the field.
As for Murray, if he plays up top in that game I believe that we comfortably win it. Southampton were a shade of the team that they have been this season and were fully there for the taking. However, one of the key cogs in our set up is a strong man up top and without it in place it means that we cannot be as inventive as we would like on a more consistent basis. It took us far too long to adjust in this match and ultimately cost us.
If you could all stop getting pointless and avoidable suspensions, that would be great.
Man of the Match: Damien Delaney
Another ‘past it’ player (note the sarcasm) put in one hell of a shift:
- 2 Tackles
- 3 Interceptions
- 11 Clearances
- 4 Blocked Shots
- 3 Aerial Duels
*Stats courtesy of whoscored.com
He was everywhere and a big part of why Southampton struggled to look threatening. Well played, Damo.
Up Next: QPR
A little break first and then a big one. A win here and looking over our shoulders is probably over for the season.
Come on you Palace!