Crystal Palace Away Lost 1 – 0
I’m not sure how much people appreciate how much injuries can disrupt a squad like Southampton’s, although, of course, the Livramento situation has been known for a long time now. It seems Adams sat out most of the Arsenal game because of another injury concern and his return at Crystal Palace was the only change to Ralph’s starting XI. The game began promisingly, but some ‘home town’ refereeing decisions forced Saints onto the back foot and the team proved not to be good enough to get back into the half. They did manage a shot against the post, by Adams, on the break but it was no surprise to see play brought back for an offside flag that proved to be correct, although closer than first thought. Palace were carving out the opportunities that were coming from genuine pressure but their finishing wasn’t all it could be. The game’s crucial moment came in the 38th minute when Lyanco, so solid last time out, was shrugged off the ball by Zaha and the resultant move ended with Édouard converting Mitchell’s cross. Maitland-Niles came on for Diallo at the break, but I suspect other tactical tweaks were responsible for the second period improvement that could, and should, have produced an equaliser. The chief culprit was Adams who wasted the two best ‘expected goals’ by shooting too close to Guaita on both occasions; Adams is a better option than Adam Armstrong but whenever either miss (as they do more often than not), you wish the chance had fallen to the other. The other Saint to go close was Stuart Armstrong who was denied by Guaita’s finger tips at the near post only to try his luck again when faced with a similar position, but this time hitting that post. I suppose that means Stuart only managed one shot on target; Adams had two, of course, but the other shown in the official stat of four must have been eminently forgettable – that’s one more than the hosts, but the elusive trick is to get one in the net. Djnepo came on for Perraud to provide more thrust down the left, which left another sub, Edozie, not terribly comfortable on the right as ultimately Palace manged to retain their lead successfully, if not very attractively.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
3.Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Only 45 minutes from him and I’m not sure he was entirely responsible for how much better we played in that period.
8. James Ward-Prowse. He’s not been in good form, and it would be a surprise if he features in the World Cup, but we found a way of getting him more involved in that second half.
31. Gavin Bazunu. To be honest, not a lot for him to do: only three shots to deal with, and no chance with the one that went in, but competent enough.