Our final preview of the six Premier League matches that take place tonight sees us at St Mary’s as Southampton take on an in form Crystal Palace who will make the trip to the South Coast with their tails up after beating league leaders Chelsea on Saturday. It is now four wins on the spin for Sam Allardyce’s men and they will look to make it number five when they go head to head with Claude Puel’s Southampton side.
The Saints are marching towards a mid table finish but after results last night their league placing does not perhaps make for the best reading. Going into this game they find themselves 13th that said though a win would take them back up to 9th. That just goes to show how congested that area of the Premier League table and a couple of positive results can make all the difference on the perception of your season.
Back to back wins for Southampton have been met with two games without a win, it’s perhaps a slight coincidence that hitman Manolo Gabbiadini has missed one and half of those games with The Saints looking relatively goalshy in comparison due to the Italian international’s absence. They had scored 8 goals in those two wins but have had to make do with a solitary James Ward-Prowse strike at White Hart Lane since.
Saturday saw them play out a South Coast Derby stalemate at home to Bournemouth. There were not many expectations going into the game and it’s fair to say that it did not live up to any of them as both sides made do with a share of the points in a drab encounter. Talking of expectations though there were not that many for Crystal Palace last Saturday as they made the short trip to Stamford Bridge.
But then look what happened, a fourth straight win for Palace and not only have they made a title race a real thing all of a sudden they have also given themselves a massive boost in their bid for survival. Once Cesc Fabregas had put the home side ahead you did get the feeling that it was going to be a routine win for the league leaders but Wilifried Zaha and Christian Benteke had other ideas and turned the script on its head.
Palace perhaps rode their luck at times as Diego Costa was in quite a wasteful mood but that is not to take anything away from The Eagles performance. Once again Mamadou Sahko earned the plaudits as the on loan Liverpool defender turned in another impressive performance at the back. He may well be in the shop window but if he can keep Palace up then they may well be suited to acquire his services on a permanent basis.
If there’s some coincidence that Southampton are struggling to score without Gabbiadini then it’s absolutely no coincidence that Palace have started winning since Sahko has come in and shored things up at the back. The combination of those two factors arguably means that Palace go into this game as the slight favourites especially as they will have their tails up after their win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
They cannot rest on their laurels though and take Southampton for granted but you must not also forget that a win for Palace would actually see them go level on points. Whether that means that Palace have pulled further clear or just pulled Southampton into the relegation mire can still be discussed but neither team are out of the woods just yet so this is not just a game towards the end of the season with nothing riding on it.
Looking into what the outcome will be, Southampton do not give much away and Palace have looked a lot better as of late, so I’m not sure there are going to be all that many goals in this game. I have a feeling the winning streak will come to an end for Palace but that said I still feel they will get a point this evening and that will be one that is very much welcomed. Share of the points for me.