Crystal Palace Home Won 3 – 1
Minamino was ineligible to play at Liverpool – no great loss, I’d say, but he does make us less symmetrical and maybe a bit more difficult to play against, so he was back to face Crystal Palace. I doubt either he or another returnee, Ings, had touched the ball by the time Palace won a free kick in the third minute as Saints hadn’t had any possession in their opponents’ half, and a dodgy beginning was worsened by some ropey defending of the set piece that allowed Benteke to display some unlikely skills before putting his side ahead. Time to reach for Old Faithful, my four pint container of draught beer, for a refill rather sooner than intended, but things did get better as we eventually ventured forwards and on 19 minutes Ings more than made up for his insipid earlier challenge on Benteke by somehow making space for a shot on the turn into the only gap available. As is their wont, the visitors were content to sit back but commit themselves forward when the occasion demanded, and every one of their attacks was a prompt for more beer as the home defence was looking no more solid – especially when Zaha brushed off Minamino and was challenged from behind by Redmond. The penalty award looked right, but Sky presented a graphic showing Milivojević has a habit of choosing the same target from the spot, and happily Forster had done his homework – we had to wait while VAR confirmed that he’d just about stayed rooted to his line, though. Bednarek had been booked just before the interval (he could hardly complain, having managed two fouls in a single tackle) and was replaced at the break. Early in the second period, Saints re-worked their corner routine that involves an Armstrong shot; it had succeeded against Leicester thanks to Iheanacho handling a rising drive, and this time it was a scuffed effort that provided the assist when it was poked home by Adams – a more difficult task than had first appeared. The game was far from over at this stage, especially when Stephens just about rescued himself after letting Benteke in. With the clock on our side, Adams and Ings combined for the latter to produce another assured finish and at 3-1 with a minimum 16 minutes left, things began to get more comfortable – Palace may be forgiven for possibly giving up a lost cause in a ‘dead rubber’ game.
LSSC Man of the Match: Danny Ings, showing that it’s not always for the best player (Ward-Prowse or Armstrong?). Danny’s goals have been behind three of our four league wins in 2021, and the table would make sorry reading had we not got those points.