The FourFourTwo Preview: Southampton vs Crystal Palace
Are Saints really that good... and are Palace really that bad?
Binary-code Southampton - league results this season 1-0, 1-1, 0-1, 0-0, 1-0 - are still to score from open play, but those three set-piece goals have them sitting pretty in seventh. And they're not as dourly defensive as those stats might suggest, with Rickie Lambert unlucky to have only scored once from 15 shots.
- Southampton 2-0 Bristol City (LC)
- Liverpool 0-1 Southampton (Prem)
- Southampton 0-0 West Ham (Prem)
- Norwich 1-0 Southampton (Prem)
- Barnsley 1-5 Southampton (LC)
CRYSTAL PALACE FORM
- Crystal Palace 0-2 Swansea (Prem)
- Man Utd 2-0 Crystal Palace (Prem)
- Crystal Palace 3-1 Southampton (Prem)
- Bristol City 2-1 Southampton (LC)
- Stoke City 2-1 Crystal Palace (Prem)
Their tails up after a hardly undeserved win at Anfield last weekend, Southampton might fancy themselves to let loose at some point, and the grounded Eagles could be the unlucky recipients.
For their part, Palace are in their usual Premier League predicament: struggling from the off. The one game they haven't lost, at home to Sunderland back before the transfer window closed, is all that's keeping them off the bottom - not that the Black Cats wouldn't swap.
With Liverpool and Arsenal among the next three opponents, Ian Holloway needs to find a way to stop losing.
Not scoring doesn't help, and while drawing a blank at Old Trafford is hardly crucial, getting beaten to nil at home to Swansea last time out is more the mark of a troubled team.
Worryingly for Palace, the uber-disciplined Saints are only conceding fractionally over one shot per game from open play.
Southampton's only worry is Gaston Ramirez, who hobbled off in injury time after scoring in the League Cup win over Bristol City.
By contrast, as if their treatment room wasn't packed enough – among the already unready are Glenn Murray, Yannick Bolasie, Jonathan Williams, Jack Hunt and Joel Ward – Palace will now have to suffice without Damien Delaney (ankle sprain).
Player to watch: Cameron Jerome (Crystal Palace)
Amid an underwhelming full debut at home to Swansea last week, it was perhaps notable that Jerome won 5/5 aerial duels. Although two were inside his own penalty area, Jerome's aerial strength could provide a more reliable escape route than Marouane Chamakh, who won just 6 out of his 12 headed battles (and 11 of his 18 at Old Trafford).
Although many of the passes Jerome received were long, the Stoke loanee linked well across the pitch. Despite starting him on the left of a 4-2-3-1, Holloway might choose to play Jerome more directly off Chamakh. Palace need spark up front, and if none of the players can provide it individually, perhaps partnerships can.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Crystal Palace 0-2 Southampton (Championship, Apr 12)
- Southampton 2-0 Crystal Palace (Championship, Dec 11)
- Crystal Palace 2-0 Southampton (LC, Oct 11)
- Southampton 1-0 Crystal Palace (Championship, Apr 09)
- Crystal Palace 3-0 Southampton (Championship, Dec 08)
He may not be happy to speak English in public, but Mauricio Pochettino has certainly slotted into the national mindset with his insistence on a high work-rate from his players. It's working: last weekend's win at Liverpool was perhaps his best moment yet. Like any manager of a struggling team, Ian Holloway would settle for a win anywhere; after St Mary's, Palace head off to Anfield for their last game before the international break, and even the perennially chirpy Holloway would face a glum fortnight if his side have just three or four points from seven games.
Facts and figures
- All 3 of Southampton’s league goals this season have come from set pieces. They are the only side yet to net in open play this term.
- Crystal Palace have now gone 3 hours without a league goal.
- Each of the past 3 games between Southampton and Crystal Palace have ended as 2-0 wins (2 to Southampton, 1 to Palace).
- There have only been 5 goals in Southampton’s league games this season, fewer than any other side.
- No player in the Premier League this season has had more shots at goal (excluding blocked) than Rickie Lambert (15).
- Despite being second bottom, this is only the second time in 5 Premier League campaigns that Crystal Palace have won any of their opening 5 games.
- Southampton have conceded more fouls (72) than any other side this season in the Premier League.
- The Saints have allowed fewer shots on target from open play (8) than any other side.
- Marouane Chamakh and Dean Moxey have both been booked in each of their last two league appearances.
- Only Tottenham (6.3%) have a lower shot conversion rate than Southampton (6.5%) this season.
- Each of Southampton’s goals has been worth 2.67 points this season, more than any other club. Palace’s are worth a second lowest figure of 0.75.
Southampton to win 2-0… both goals coming from set-pieces.