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Saints At Crystal Palace The Verdict
Sunday, 13th Sep 2020 08:58

Saints started off as they finished last season by dominating away from home, but they also showed that some of the old problems still remain, conceding a goal where we failed to do the basics.

When we restarted the season at Norwich City, the winning scoreline didn't tell the story of how poor marking had almost seen us two goals down before we had barely started, then when our defence left a player completely unmarked they failed to score, but at Selhurst Park there was no such let off for Saints.

Virtually every defeat last season saw me report on soft goals conceded costing us dearly, I was getting fed up with writing the story, people told me I was like a broken record, but it is not my fault and once again I.m starting where I left off and I'm sick of it.

The answer is simple, we need a leader at the back, someone who organises, how does a so called Premier League defence just leave someone totally unmarked like this, we had no one even close to Zaha.

Once again we are caught on the break and at sixes and sevens, Mohamed Salisu will improve things, but the truth is that he does not have the experience, it is fine pursuing a transfer strategy of getting in youngsters, but someone needs to lead them on the pitch.

Palace having took the lead were not going to give it away easily, they were organised at the back, they made it hard for us and gave us no gifts, if we are to have a good season we need to be able to keep clean sheets and grind out results.

Otherwise we looked quite good, we dominated possession, 71% to be exact, we had 9 chances compared to the home sides 3 and we had 5 of those on target and in doing so made Guaita in the home goal the man of the match, whereas Alex McCarthy had little to do apart from pick the ball out of the net.

But at the final whistle only one stat mattered and it was Palace who had it !

Last season I spent every preview saying that we always gift chances, it is only a question if these errors are punished or not, this was a day they where.

Ralph Hasenhuttl will be frustrated at yet another error, but he needs to do something about it or else this season is going to be like that each game is a lottery as to whether we get away with it or not.

I haven't pointed the finger at any individual here, I leave that to you to watch the footage and decide, the issue though is not just about poor marking it is about organisation, the good central defensive partnerships we have had in the past have had a contrast, a strong partner and another one that can read the game and hold the back line.

Someone who can make sure that everyone is in place and doing their jobs, when Palace broke we were all at sea, several players were not where they should have been , but that is down to communication and talking, Jose Fonte had that for Saints and we need someone like that again and we need it fast, we are approaching the 4th year of poor defending in the centre of defence,

I have been accused of being harsh on Jack Stephens at times, I don't think I have been, but he like others around him needs a leader alongside him, perhaps he could be a decent player, Jan Bednarek likewise or for that matter Jannik Vestergaard , none of our central defenders are achieving their potential and will not do so unless we have a leader, a communicator and someone who can organise.

Broken record ? Yes but that is't my fault !

Photo: Action Images

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perazi added 09:31 - Sep 13
Weird summary. Did the author of the report actually see the game, or just read the statistic sheet? We may have had 71% of possession but most of it was sideways and backwards passes putting very little pressure on a well organised defence who sat deep. Saint's high line pressing style meant that we were open to the counter attack and several times Palace exploited the space behind the high line. I don't know who you are insinuating was responsible for the goal but it wasn't Stephens or Bednarek....have another look and you'll see it was a misplaced pass from Romeu which Redmond made a pig's ear of, allowing Townsend to make the run and deliver the peachy cross to allow Zaha the first time was a well taken goal. In truth Palace could have scored another couple...the offside goal was tight and Zaha missed a sitter late in the game. Saints were much better in the second half and it took a reflex save from the Palace keeper to repel the sweetly struck shot of Adams. The glancing header from Ings was our only other meaningful attempt on goal although Redmond, who was disappointing on the day spurned a good sight on goal.

The real weakness on the day was the lack of midfield creativity to provide Ings and Adams. Both JWP and Romeu had reasonable games although Romeu crucially misplaced two passes. Smallbone and Redmond were the real "culprits" on the day - Redmond just looked rusty and "off" for most of the day while Smallbone looked like a young player completely out of his depth. At this stage his chief attribute is being tall and athletic - not that athleticism is translating into his game - I know Armstrong was injured but at this stage Smallbone looks like a plodding mid who would benefit from a season long loan in the Championship. We badly need a midfield reinforcement!!!

UgandaSaint added 09:35 - Sep 13
Palace's goal started when Romeo made a suicide pass to Redmond. If Redmond had reacted quicker he may have got to the ball first. Bednarek had to go out wide to cover the man with the ball. This left Stephens with two men to mark, when he went for the central man the pass went to Zaha, if Stephens had marked Zaha the pass would have gone to the central striker and would still have been a goal.

HythePeer added 09:41 - Sep 13
Lost! In the relegation zone! I think I'm gonna have to get used to saying that.

highfield49 added 09:48 - Sep 13
I can understand your frustration Nick but we were poor in several other areas. Bednarek's substitution for "tactical reasons" sounds horribly euphemistic and will give rise to all sorts of speculation. I'll admit that my first reaction was that someone had put in an acceptable transfer offer and he was pulled off to avoid injury!
Speculation aside, we certainly missed Armstrong's experience, JWP had little impact and Redmond was just plain frustrating and the whole team lacked sharpness. A bad day at the office and a performance absolutely typical of our first match history. Horrible to watch and if it hadn't been my team playing I'd have switched off the tv because entertainment wise it was a disaster.

goalie66 added 09:50 - Sep 13
Yes we need a leader on the pitch to organise the team. For me the worst performer yesterday was McCarthy. He was routed too his line in two occasions for the offside goal and the late horror miss by Zaha. He made no attempt to narrow angles or take on the attacker on a one on one. Goalkeepers breed confidence and can also organize a defense. Notwithstanding those comments Saints were predictable, boring and out thought tactically by Hodgson. All our subs were too late.

underweststand added 10:05 - Sep 13
Sounds sad to say "our normal bad start," but it was. Much of that 70% possession was sideways balls in our own half, and Roy's makeshift defence could just wait for us to try and move forward before shutting us out.

Our midfield showed some skill, but lacked creativity and played too deep. Romeu is the only " hard man " we have now, but even he is prone to bad passing and both FB's looked inventive going forward, but forget they are essentially defenders. Townsend and Zaha were given far too much space on the wings. Bednarek looked tired after 2 international games in a week, but Vestergaard is still vulnerable when caught with the ball, despite his obvious height advantage in free-kick and defensive situations. We had chances but the Palace goalie was their MoM and we might well have scored a couple on another day.

We must take better advantage of the opportunities that we get, and missed two in the first 5 minutes, but we must see how we respond to Spurs next weekend to make a proper judgement about the squad.

wessexman added 10:57 - Sep 13
Our defense is as you were...yes, we have bought another one but he won't be able to start until somewhere in October? We sold Hojberg because he wanted bigger and better things. Reed and Lemina have gone so we are no stuck with a lightweight midfield bereft of pace. I think our starting 11 is good enough to stay out of trouble....but, Armstrong missing was a decent indication that we have no depth in our squad at all. You get the impression Smallbone is now the solution according to our powers to be? Should Ings lose form or get injured, where are the goals coming from?
Injuries, suspensions and an transfer policy which has baffled at times could well be punished this time round. Yes, we managed to turn round a few dreadful results but the bottom line is we are still blessed with a flaky defense and a mentality which, for some unfathomable reason, just does not get us out the starting blocks until we are chasing the game. Ralph has managed to turn water into wine at times but, for all his brilliance, our collective luck will run out. The Spurs game is now huge already because Burnley away afterwards is not a happy hunting ground.

saintmark1976 added 11:19 - Sep 13
K W P still wearing flip flops for the Palace goal and Redmond simply not at the races all afternoon long.Just another variation of our now usual opening day fiasco really. Fortunately are traveling fans were at least able to save some money this time around.

“Mohamed Salisu will improve things”. What, like Danso did last season Nick? Salisu is supposedly not currently fit and hasn’t played one minute of Premiership football for goodness sake.

erick added 11:24 - Sep 13
The only fault we have we don't have enough central mid cover, smallbone is a young player and Redmond has been outright poor for the last couple of seasons we need to give djenepo that wing. We should find suitable cover for Armstrong.

erick added 11:25 - Sep 13
I would sell Redmond over boufal

derbydog added 11:38 - Sep 13
Maybe the problem was the strange pre-season? Surprised to hear in commentary last night that Liverpool played pretty much their first team in four friendlies. We only played one that we know of. Isn’t test how yesterday looked? Like a pre-season friendly? We didn’t look ready...

obelisk added 11:51 - Sep 13
Was it my TV or did one or two Saints players look a little bit overweight?

Romeu needs to be told that if he's taking over the role of PEH then he needs to lose the part of the game where he passes directly to the opposition.

And when is Redmond going to come good? Another frustrating performance from him.

SanMarco added 12:02 - Sep 13
"Otherwise we looked quite good" - not so sure about that. I thought we looked slow (perhaps derbydog has a good point about pre-season) and rather complacent, as if we had read the pre-season reviews and thought we only had to turn up to win. Yes - a soft goal from a poor pass (why didn't KWP get back to cover??) but in recent seasons on this ground we have scored enough to allow one goal against - it was the attacking play that let us down for me. Slow, ponderous and lacking creativity.

The Palace tactics may be a blueprint for how the lower sides will play us when at home. Basically play like the away side and keep it very tight, wait for the error and hit us on the break. It is only one game and we will surely sharpen up. I am surprised that we are starting yet another season with the same central defence weaknesses but although that remains the biggest issue long-term there are clearly other possible concerns going on that 90 minutes. Important not to go into crisis mode if we lose to Spuds - as we showd last year it is a long season!!

I am timing the '9-0 mention' on commentaries - 39 seconds from kick off on BT Sport...

SaintPaulVW added 12:08 - Sep 13
I'm filing this under 'we always start slow'. To me, it felt like a 1-1 draw that got away from us. So only a point lost.

For what it's worth I thought JV and KWP, it was never a red, looked good. Rest much of a muchness, agree WS looked his age, however hardly surprising.

Agree we need a shouty leader somewhere in the spine of the side.

Colburn added 12:16 - Sep 13
Well Nick, yes it is your fault that you rant so much repeated rubbish.. You attack the wrong players and neglect to make the slightest criticism on those who perhaps warrant it more. One player in particular is dreadful, never gets dropped from the team and is a huge weak link in our ability to score goals. This has been the case for 2 years now.. Without that mistake at the back, we would have gained a point. You want to sell Boufal and keep the aforementioned waste of wages Redmond..? OK then..... This is Ralph's biggest problem, an inability to drop a player who has put in poor effort after poor effort, or maybe the coaching is dumb.. We carried 2 or 3 players yesterday and we can't afford to do that. Of course Nick, we couldnt sell Redmond, nobody is interested in buying him, wrong personality/attitude to succeed at this level. Receives the ball, waits for the oppo to get back into position then heads back his own goal with the ball. Is that his remit? It's a shame because he has ability, just not the head.
We are 4 players short for being able to improve on last seasons end league position and we know that won't happen! Same old story.. Never ready, always playing catch up. The teams who strengthened will improve, we won't, midfield is weakest since George Burley days.

halftimeorange added 12:17 - Sep 13
The old fox, Roy Hodgson out-thought and out-manoeuvred Ralph. Our defence was yards too high most of the game inviting the inevitable breakaway by speedy attackers. Redmond put in his usual poor performance (how he gets in the team beats me), and JWP seemed to suffer a hangover from his England omission. Vestergaard did his usual dithering when given a short ball by McCarthy. Why, Alex do you do that when Jannik has been caught out several times before? Palace showed how to beat us and other clubs will have taken note. Sit back, wait for a Saints error, then counter and score, then sit back. We can only hope that Armstrong gives us that much-needed cutting edge.

stmichael added 12:25 - Sep 13
It is a broken record because one again you are blaming the wrong people.
We play high , everyone knows that , and we gave the ball away cheaply in midfield.
This means we are emergency defending. Marking goes out of the window because defenders have to go to the ball leaving players unmarked. When Townsend crosses the ball yesterday our full backs weren’t even in the frame.
Our problem is and has been for a long time MIDFIELD.
Romeau yesterday and the midfield in general.
They just do not offer any protection and in this system it is a goal waiting to happen...

Farlow added 12:37 - Sep 13
The most dissapointing player for me was Ryan Bertrand who as usual gave his wide man too much space.He needs a kick up the arse because on his day he is the best left back in the country.

Billeewithers added 12:41 - Sep 13
Ralph still has a basic problem. Naive game management. In my mind at this point of the season teams can be flat.
Why attack away .... it is not our job to entertain that is the home teams job.
Away you start with a point. Period.
If the line up in front of the penalty area in an eight. Leave them there. Just kick the ball over the top and leave a couple of blokes hanging around. Not Redmond .... lacks the intelligence, wit, confidence or drive. Why I don’t know.
Protect your point at this time of the season at all costs and walk away. That point at Christmas and season’s end will be of worth .... easy money. Palace did just that and Ralph appeared bemused .... yet again no subbing strategy apparent no strategy full stop.
Hope he picks up on when to run and when to sit in.

felly1 added 13:16 - Sep 13
Every goal we ever concede will forever be Jack Stephens fault. You can almost not even bother to read the verdict to know what will be written. Absolutely no mention of a misplaced pass from Romeu that resulted in the goal.

ItchenNorth added 13:34 - Sep 13
Erick - I would play Boufal over Redmond (but I take your point !).

abingdonsaint added 15:50 - Sep 13
There are pros and cons to the way we play, simple as that. The high line is aggressive but inherently risky, because leaving space behind is unavoidable. Bayern Munich, who have just won the Champions League, have a similar style (obviously with superior players!) and also often look vulnerable to the counter attack. It’s about minimising the downsides and maximising the advantages. We didn’t do that yesterday, but when it works we are very difficult to play against, even for the top sides.

As regards yesterday, it was interesting that Roy Hodgson said that he was very impressed with our central defenders and the way the intercepted, as with their pace up front he expected to create more chances against our style!

So, like it or not, we have a way of playing that will mean we lose some games we may expect to win, but equally I expect us to win games we’re expected to lose. Good fun in my opinion.

AmericanSaint added 19:03 - Sep 13
"Abingtonsainst" is spot on. They way RH wants the team to play will mean we will get caught when our midfielders make errors (like OR did). When Vestagaard came on and did the long ball over the top, it showed where CP were vulnerably. We did that for about 10 minutes and then stopped. No idea why. Also, Redmond and Wishbone were not making runs into the wings or channels and that allowed CP to marshall their lines. Two top class saves by their Keeper or we could have at least got a point. My one major issue yesterday was that we were passing so slowly. Even after halftime, we did not pick it up that much. I also think this games shows that we need another midfielder for sure as Wishbone did not show much as I think he played too conservative. Also, JWP needed a boot in the but at halftime as his passing went from decent (side-to-side and forward) to backwards in the second half. Ok, its the first game, so let's not hit the panic button. May this is the wake up call the team needed as they might have thought the fortunes of the end of last season was just going to automatically apply to this season. One to the next and let's do this. COYR.

KriSaint added 20:26 - Sep 13
We needed Armstrong badly, and maybe we have to buy a cover for Armstrong since he has become so important for us + we obviously have to find at least one new replacement option for Højbjerg, which will hopefully be prioritated intensively by the club in the coming days and weeks. So - on a positive note - at least we found out that we have to buy at least a couple of new players in the remaining part of the transfer window. We simply have to - judged on the match vs Palace. At least one defensive midfielder and a cover for Armstrong. The need is written in neon.

NewburySaint added 20:47 - Sep 13
Yes, totally agree that the Palace goal was down to poor defending but this isn’t why we lost this game.

As you alluded to we had lots of possession and efforts on goal but had a 0 to show for it-If you don’t score goals then you won’t win games, or in the case of yesterday, draw them, and this, like us being poor defensively, has been an issue for a few years as well save for the period over Xmas and June until the end of this season.

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