Crystal Palace Home Lost 0 – 2
There was enough promise in our ‘no forwards’ ploy to continue with it for Crystal Palace‘s visit, especially with Adams still unavailable, but Rubén also sprang a surprise by recalling Aribo to play in midfield. Aribo’s best skill, that we’ve seen anyway, has been his finishing, but he wasted an opportunity to put Saints ahead following a clever corner routine. To be fair, it is a bit of an ask to expect a player thrust into Premier League action for the first time in 2023 to be penalty-box-sharp, but there are no such excuses for Walcott who similarly fired into the Northam Stand, plus he had time to consider something that might have tested goalkeeper Johnstone. A lot has been made of Palace’s having no shots on target in the first half, but did Saints? I mean real shots? Such is the pessimism surrounding home games that I can’t have been alone in thinking that the visitors were more than capable of upping their game if they had to, and sure enough their two on target efforts in the whole game were ones that counted. On 54 minutes, a cross shouldn’t have been allowed to get to Ayew, who shouldn’t have been able to get past Maitland-Niles so easily, but the real damage was done when Bazunu flapped ineffectively at Ayew’s cross and only sent the ball out to Eze who promptly dispatched it. It took five minutes, but plan A was eventually ditched by the introduction of Tall Paul, along with Djnepo. And then Eze scored again, and that was that. This was a shot from outside the area that Bazunu might have done better with, but no-one was too surprised that he didn’t; it’s been a while since Bazunu had made a serious error, but he’s always looked one of the worst in his position in the Premier League, if not the worst – did nobody think it might have been better to have addressed that issue in January, rather than acquiring Luton’s right back, the Croatian we’ve already forgotten about and of course our own Little and Large? Onuachu did at least contribute an effort on goal, a tame header not dealt with very confidently by Johnstone, but it was another January signing, Alcaraz, who came closest to getting Saints back into the game with a fine shot that bounced back out despite hitting the inside of the post, and then Bella-Kotchap forced the save of the match out of Johnstone. Does that sound like a rousing finish by the lads? It wasn’t.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from, but this is getting more and more difficult with each defeat. The BBC web site gives each player a mark out of 10 but it must be automated, e.g. based on each player’s possession stats – heck, they had Bazunu top and with Walcott and Maitland-Niles also in the top 5!
2. Kyle Walker-Peters. BBC had him at number five, but don’t let that put you off.
20. Charly Alcaraz. An uneven performance, but at least his shot against the post had us out of our seats (other than to walk out before the end).
45. Roméo Lavia. Well, of course. Even the BBC had him at three.