Saints V Crystal Palace The Verdict Thursday, 31st Jan 2019 13:29
Saints looked deflated from the start but hung on in there to earn a decent point from a game that they would have lost a few months ago.
Palace came with a game plan and that was to stifle Saints and go on the break and they had the better of the early exchanges although Saints had their moments not least a Hojbjerg shot that was well saved by the keeper.
But just as Saints looked to have weathered the storm and got into half time all square Wilfred Saha popped up as the far post and squeezed in a shot at the near post which to be fair looked like one the keeper should have had the angles covered.
Indeed Alex McCarthy didn't look happy all night especially on crosses where he came and flapped on a couple of occasions not least late in the second half where he ran into one of his own players completely failing to get anywhere near the ball, luckily Sakho blazed over from close range when it looked easier to score.
That left Saints still only a goal behind and although they weren't playing well they never gave up, on came Elyounoussi in the 75th minute as Ralph Hasenhuttl looked to try and change the pattern of the game and Elyounoussi was the only flare player he had on the bench able to do that.
Within minutes Saints were level and although Elyounoussi was not directly responsible a well worked move saw Armstrong lay the ball to Targett who made a great run to the byeline and then pulled the ball back perfectly to James Ward Prowse who scored for the third game running.
For the final 13 minutes the crowd found it's voice, the players found momentum and Palace were on the ropes, but the final minutes would be more about the referee, Andre Marriner had not been great all game and bizarrely he attended to a Palace player down with a head injury in our penalty area as the game wen on behind him.
With three minutes to go an innocuous clash between Wilfrid Saha and James Ward Prowse escalated, our man who was capping another decent performance seemingly stemming from a change in his mindset that has suddenly brought his nasty streak to the fore refused to be bullied by Saha who whinged because he felt he should have had a foul, a booking for waving his arms at JWP who was clearly goading him suddenly became a red after he was booked for sarcastic clapping of the ref and then repeatably trying to get to the ref to give him more abuse.
The upshot though was it took the momentum out of Saints game, Marriner despite five substitutions, some injuries and a good 2 minutes plus to sort out this problem only added 3 minutes of injury time and this was barely time for Saints to get their head of steam up again.
This was a game of contrasts, on one hand it was a disappointing performance for most of the game, on the other it was a well earned point from a team that kept it's shape and kept it's spirit and never gave up.
It also posed several questions for the manager, the first is about the goalkeeper, Alex McCarthy looked shaky all evening and repeatably failed to deal with crosses and command his box, could we see Gunn back for the trip to Burnley, I wouldn't discount it.
Secondly there is the defensive situation, we need more quality at the back and I don't think the return of Yoshida is good enough to bring that to the defence, too many times Palace were dancing around us and we looked over run, to our credit we hung on in there, but Palace missed a couple of good opportunities when they found themselves unmarked, this has to be stopped.
We also need another attacking option, Ings and Redmond had quiet games they found themselves tightly marked, till the final minutes we did not have enough attacking support for them, we were thin on the bench in that respect.
But overall this was a good point, you can't win every game and a year ago we lost this fixture in similar circumstances, the mid week fixtures saw us move a point more clearer away from the drop zone so that is a move in the right direction.
Nothing is going to be easy but we travel to Burnley on the back of a four game unbeaten run and at the start of the year we would have taken 8 points from these four games, in fact we would have been happy with 5.
So we still continue to go forward, we should remember that we still need to improve the squad, but the foundations are there to be built on, we have key players coming back to fitness soon and when the likes of Lemina, Bertrand, Obafemi and even Austin are available that will give Ralph Hasenhuttl more to work with.
I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought the ref did some very strange things last night. The added time was a mystery (but then it always is) but, as the report pointed out, the fact he allowed play to continue while he was attending an injured player in the penalty area was quite bizarre. As for strengthening, last night showed more than ever that we most lack a skilful playmaker who can somehow find a way through teams like Palace who come to St Mary's and stick everyone behind the ball. Finally, no mention of the jeering of our own player. If Hoedt had been the victim I'm pretty sure it would've been the main thrust of the article.
A very tired and unimaginative performance, not much sign of high press and quick transitions last night. Ralph is going to find it much harder to ingrain his ideas into this bunch of dunces than he at first thought.
Targett & Stevens were simply awful and the quicker Yoshi and Bert are back the better. Ward Prowse just about redeemed an otherwise lamentable performance in which the game mostly passed him by. Another MotM performance from Oriol Romeu who at times looked to be only player on our side to be interested or cared.
Considering that Palace have had some good results recently I'm quite happy to see the back of this game, before the match I thought it was one that would cost us three points. Thankfully RH has installed more than a bit of grit into the squad and whereas we might have been bullied and intimidated in the recent past it was good to see a few competitive challenges upsetting the opposition. Ideally, we need a couple of players coming in today to freshen things up but, as has been said, there are players coming back from injury that can add different dimensions. Another tough game coming up at the weekend though and we really need Redmond and Ings to be a bit more of a threat going forward than they were last evening. As for McCarthy he looked very much like a player whose concentration was missing and I agree that Gunn could well start at Burnley. In the end a good point won when it looked a bit unlikely that we'd get anything and credit to RH for substitutions that put us on the front foot.
Not the best example of Premier League football, but at least we got a point, against a predictably feisty Palace side, with or without Wilfred Zaha. The long lay-off may have sapped the team of enthusiasm , as they did seem at half-pace in the first half. The final 15 minutes showed what we can achieve with an all-out attacking formation. Back to Prowsie as a conversation topic. For the last 18 months there has been the usual 50/50 love / hate response to his performances, without anyone pin-pointing -what is this fellow's best position?. In the past he had been in Steven Davis' shadow, and never really established himself in any of the roles he had been asked to do. He is a bit too lightweight to be a defensive midfielder, and not tough enough for the holding role that Davis did so well..but he seems to have been given a free role and pops up all over the place during games. His reputation (built around his dead ball talents), created chances that often begging for the lack of good strikers to convert, but he does have a deceptively hard shot, as we have seen in the last 3 games. Could it be that -at last -we might see what he can really contribute to the team - let's hope so.
Lucky to get a point in that game last night and it showed that we are short of good players we still need a good striker and central defender. Alex McCarthy had a nightmare last night and it would be good to see Angus Gunn start on Saturday. Yan Valery and Jack Stephens are both red card accidents waiting to happen. We must not let Charlie Austin go because we are already short of goal scorers. Lets hope we are busy today in the transfer market.
If further evidence was needed last night showed that Targett and Stephens are, at best, Championship material. In the first twenty minutes I counted eight occasions when Targett's lack of pace and/or confidence stopped an attack by his passing back or crossing too late to beat the defender. Stephens summed himself up with that blind hoof towards our goal. He was directly in front of me and I can safely say he never once looked where the ball might end up. I thought Valery was having a decent game and was surprised that he went off instead of Targett. The trio in midfield battled gamely but had no impetus from a defence which, Valery apart, seemed content to pass the ball sideways and backwards. JWP spent a lot of time in acres of space in the first half calling and waving for the ball and never receiving it. As for McCarthy, he is following in the footsteps of a number of other Saints recent 'keepers, going from very competent to looking as though he's short on coaching. What the hell do they do in that particular department of St Marys? Gunn's choice of diving direction in the second Derby game shoot-out left me shaking my head in disbelief, so who's third-choice? I can't blame Ings or Redmond last night. If you are never presented with any support there simply isn't much you can do. This performance was reminiscent of Pellegrino's time with us - bloody awful!
Well that was an odd game! For the first hour or so I thought Mark Hughes must have come back to manage the team, then suddenly we burst into live with an excellent move and a great goal from JWP. It just shows that some old habits haven't changed, and our new man is going to have to crack the whip to make sure the players do things his way, not to old way. That being said, not a bad result against a very organised team and a very tricky player in the shape of Zaha.
First time we have got anything out of a game after going behind since Burnley last season I think. I write with only 4 hours to go before the deadline and I have to say that this match showed everyone where we need strengthening. It was a very good point gained given how poor we were.
To be fair to McCarthy, how the heck is a goalkeeper supposed to keep warm on a night like that?
Outfield players are on the move all night and have good circulation to keep them warm. He and his compatriot at the other end must have been frozen to the core and if your core team drops you are in physical and mental trouble.
Somebody mentioned lapses in concentration, that would be expected would it not in these circumstances. Calling for him to be dropped is so stupid as to be worthy only of contempt.
Anybody who has played golf in winter knows all about this, once you are cold and your hands can't grip it's time to pack up and go home. Goalkeepers don't have this luxury.
Of course they could have given him and Gunn 45 minutes each but clubs usually do not want to waste a sub on a goalie
Don't usually agree with St Brock, but this time most of what he had to say was quite right - we looked lethargic, unfocused and lacking creativity for the greater part of the game - our passing was consistently lamentable - our central defenders looked very wobbly, especially Stephens whose distribution was at times suicidal and his recovery tackles both dangerous and dismissable -potentially good player that Valery is, putting him up against one of the most threatening wingers in the EPL was surely naive...and unfair on him so early in his career - where has McCarthy's command of his 6yd box disappeared to? - and no, despite getting it together much better in the last few weeks,yesterday JWP was anonymous for most of the first half - we patently do not have a creative midfielder ( Elyanoussi continues to look irrelevant) bring back Boufal asap -madness to let Soares, Austin and Gabbiadini go without replacements. I think this approach is naive in this division, at this time of the season in this position. I think a previous Liverpool manager once said that you cannot win titles with kids, for sure you can get relegated without enough experienced players
Good summing up by ExiledSupporter and SaintBrock it was a very unimaginative performance that lacked any creativity. The creativity went when Dusan Tadic left. A creative midfielder, a striker and a defender should have been signed this month.
A poor game from us against a well organised, but boring opponent. Well done RH with his change of shape, rocations and substitutions during the second half. That said, it´s amazing that Elyounouissi still gets chances, but there must be a reason that I just haven´t discovered yet.... One positive thing was that the referee´s decisions where consistantly in our favour.... How we avoided a stone wall penalty and probably a red card against us, is beyond me... :-/