Crystal Palace Away Won 0 – 1
A change at the helm for Crystal Palace before Southampton’s visit, with Frank De Boer’s dismissal relieving Les Reed of one (fewest games) of his Premier League short service records, but not the other (elapsed time). The home team’s fortunes didn’t change with Uncle Roy now in charge as they fell behind in the 7th minute: Davis fed Tadić whose cross was parried away from Long back into the path of Davis who stroked (or maybe scuffed?) the ball home. Saints went on to be good value for that lead as they established control in the engine room through Romeu and Lemina, and some credit for this may belong to referee Madley who allowed players to tackle – even if Shane Long didn’t always see it that way. It wouldn’t be Saints without the odd scare, and a major one came after an error by Bertrand but Forster brought his giant right paw into play to deny Benteke. Palace seemed to up their work rate after the break with their best player, Loftus-Cheek, causing problems with a cross that Saints didn’t properly clear, subsequently forcing Forster into another important save, this time to foil Puncheon. A heavy shower may have been helpful in denting the hosts’ enthusiasm as those moments were the last serious threats to the Southampton goal, although it would have been nice to have had some more chances of our own than the Soares effort that was cleared by Hennessey’s knee. Instead we adopted a safety-first approach by moving to a back five for the last eight minutes, including added time; this came via the introduction of Van Dijk for Tadić to a mixed reaction from visiting fans – at least TV coverage showed your newsletter editor included in those applauding. The outcome, and an even earlier round five result than in this lunchtime game, leaves Palace stranded and, embarrassingly, still without a goal – I do wonder where the bulk of our goals are to come from, though, as the selection of Long for Gabbiadini didn’t make us look any more potent.
LSSC Man of the Match: Mario Lemina. Unfortunately this didn’t go unnoticed by the MotD pundits, no doubt triggering an alert for the scouting department at Anfield.