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Southampton At Crystal Palace The FA Cup Preview
Friday, 6th Jan 2023 10:21

Saints have two cup ties in the space of four days starting with the trip to Selhurst Park in the FA Cup on Saturday followed by Manchester City in the Carabao Cup at St Mary's on Wednesday, will they still be in both competitions, this time next week.

Southampton return to Selhurst Park only two months after going down to a 1-0 defeat to Palace in the Premier League, a game which if it had been won and it should have been, might well have meant the Saints board keeping faith with Ralph Hasenhuttl.

But the game was lost with the usual story of slack defending and missed chances and Hasenhuttl was replaced by Nathan Jones just over a week later.

Since then things have got worse and not better and Jones has presided over four straight Premier League defeats punctuated only by a narrow win over League One side Lincoln City in the Carabao Cup that set up a quarter final tie with Manchester City.

But before we play that we have to take on the Eagles and gain some confidence that will set us up not only for the City game but a truly do or die game up at Goodison Park where the atmosphere will be toxic, as Everton fans are even more up in arms than Saints fans at the moment.

Nathan Jones is still adamant that his preferred back three supported by wing backs is the way forward, but for this game he will be without Armando Bella Kotchap who after coming off injured against Nottingham Forest is having a scan on the injury so will miss this game and perhaps more.

That leaves Jones with only three fit central defenders in Lyanco, Caleta -Car & Salisu and so far whatever combination we have played has not looked solid.

One thing we learned from the Forest game is that Lyanco is a strong up and at em defender, but in a back three you need a ball playing figure in the centre, as his wayward pass on Wdnesday showed Lyanco isn't that man, the nearest we have to that is Calta-Car.

It seems likely Jones might enter the loan market to sort the issue out, but in the meantime he has to adapt , that could mean a place in the squad for 19 year old Nico Laurence, the youngster has been training with the first team of late and could be at least on the bench at Selhurst Park, we will see if he is in the squad for the B team game against Derby this evening which will perhaps give us an answer.

The problem for Jones though in playing his preferred system is not so much the central defenders but the fact that he has no recognised wing backs ! Kyle Walker Peters is able to adapt and has the engine to do it, but Romain Perraud is a traditional style full back and doesn't have the up and down the line engine that is needed to play as a wing back.

Most of the other options are more attacking wingers than wingers, in the past Djenepo has been used as a left wing back with varied success, I would not be surprised to see him start in this position on Saturday.

Otherwise it is hard to guess just who Jones will select, to be blunt his team selections have been slightly baffling, certain players seem to be in despite poor performance whilst the likes of Stuart Armstrong can't get in the starting line up.

In truth this isn't Jones fault, he probably only has two or three players who are truly undroppable, aside from those few, none of the rest have made themselves essential in the starting line up.

The FA cup is a welcome distraction from the fans who want to see a good FA Cup run, Jones though may be more pragmatic, he will not want to risk picking up injuries in the squad, he will balance up a good cup run with the fact that the stark truth in the Premier League era today is that we are highly unlikely to even reach the final let alone win it, with there now being 7 BIG clubs with seemingly unlimited spending power, gone are the days when the FA cup was a competition that anyone outside of this cartel can win it.

Indeed Saints a couple of years ago came as near as most in going down 1-0 to Leicester City in a semi final that saw the Foxes go on to beat Chelsea by the same score in the final.

So i expect a side packed with those that haven't got much of a look in so far under Jones, he probably has to play his Gavin Bazunu and his three fit central defenders out of necessity, but otherwise the 7 available positions after that will be James Ward Prowse and six others.

It would be good to win this game and have a little run in the FA Cup, but I suspect that Nathan Jones will not be as bothered about it as I am.

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SanMarco added 10:39 - Jan 6
To be cynical one could say that now we are out of the league we should concentrate on the cups!!

If he plays 5 at the back he is an idiot.

Good luck to all that are going - I hope you at least get a half decent performance.

highfield49 added 11:01 - Jan 6
Lots of comments about defence and variations on the theme Nick but for some reason you've neglected to comment on the dire performances of supposed strikers. The conversion rate of goal scoring opportunities is abysmal at best and even worse in recent games.
I'm tired of the excuses about style of play and lack of creativity in midfield. Shooting wide of the goal, straight at the keeper and missing tap ins from three feet is worse than anything our defenders have contrived to do at the other end of the pitch.

SaintNick added 11:20 - Jan 6
Two comments.

Firstly I dont see us playing 5 at the back, we have 3 defenders and two wingbacks, in many ways it is a more attacking formation than playing a back four.

Secondly, you are right about the missed chances, but it is hard to mention this in a preview when I am not sure just who will be playing up front

StRipper added 11:24 - Jan 6
We're going to see that injury list build up as players decide that they can't or don't want to play under Jones. I'm willing to be that ABK won't be the only one with a mysterious injury after we lose these 2 cup matches.
This would be an ideal opportunity to rest Bazunu but we've already seen that Jones is incapable of reading the room.

JoeEgg added 11:37 - Jan 6
Have to agree with Highfield. Why keep going on about our defensive frailties and gifts to the opposition when the problems are probably even greater at the other end. I cant think of any circumstances where Elyounoussi or Adam Armstrong would ever score a goal, and Adams has some appalling misses to his name. Ironic too that Danny Ings scored during a brief cameo in the Villa match!
Its just possible that we might have some experienced forward talent on their way to try to rescue our season. Of course we have to stop giving goals away but lets find the best way of putting goals in our opponents net. In my view that is the single most important challenge facing Saints at the moment and has been all season!

HythePeer added 11:38 - Jan 6
I think !0 at the back and hope they score an own goal?

Kingsland34 added 12:09 - Jan 6
We do of course have two central defenders out on loan. Let alone Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens was always good at repelling Man. City and is no worse than what has been happening of late. Worth a recall?

DellBoyWally added 12:27 - Jan 6
We seem to be looking for strikers - has Orsic really had his medical and is he ready to sign? If so he is the type of striker we should have signed when Ings left for the "great project"!! 30 years old and a consistent scorer in numerous leagues so could adapt.
Jackson from Verona(?) - 22yo, 3 goals in 19 games, can't get in the first team!! Just what we need!!!
Akpom from Middlesborough - 27, scoring a hatful in the Championship. Where have we heard that before? CheA and AdamA come to mind!
In defence: Keane from Everton!! What???? You think Lyanco has an error in him then wait till you see Keane!!!
We might also be getting Badnarek back!! If he could repeat his earlier form it'd be a boost but I think, watching him at Villa, that ain't gonna happen.
The fact Sport Republic are looking at numerous older players is a clear admission that they got the summer strategy wrong. RH knew it, the "expert" pundits knew it, the fans knew it.
Under RH we created truck-loads of chances - mid and high 20s at times - but under TJ we don't create at all. Unless you count punts upfield and hope the opposition keeper is asleep!
Nathan Byron from the Bad Education podcast, as a QPR fan, said: "We'd just kick the ball up in the air, chase it and lose it... and then get it back and do the same again - for 90 minutes." Sound familiar?? A summary of the Forest game??
Saturday? Palace get a league boost from an easy, convincing victory!

davenbennett added 12:30 - Jan 6
Media saying Saints want 2 in by Everton, CMF and CB. But, should have had in by Forest, or at least CP. That would give new players to cup games to bed in before the crucial PL 6 pointer v Everton. I think we need a new manager asap, but also complete squad re-build. Get rid Aribo, AA, Adams, Ely, Djenepo, AA, C-C, Lyanco, Diallo, end M-N loan. Sell Stephens, Bednerek, if can. Sell Lavia to Chelsea for £50m. Use money raised to re-build squad. A team with Bazunu, Walker-Peters , LB, Tino RB, 1 of Salisu, B-K, experienced CB, Ward-Prowse, new CMF, Orsic, 2 new strikers, Edozie is a mid table team. Bring back Tella to fight for place on wing. So 4 new players. Squad would need depth, so prefer a few more in. But rather have 4 £25m players than 10 £10m. Use Nico Lawrence, JJM, Ballard, Payne, Finnegan. We might still go down, but I think would give us a fighting chance. Squad now is just not good enough. Also,don't want to be stuck with useless squad on PL wages in Championship.

davidargyll added 12:34 - Jan 6
(Good article in the Telegraph today about how SR and Rasmus Ankersen are basically making a hash of things…)
But looking ahead, I really don’t know what I want out of the next three games. To win all 3 would be wonderful but equally I want see the back of Jones asap. Which at the very least will require three even worse performances than v Forest.
Is that likely? Frankly I think not on the basis that surely our luck, even if unjustified by everything else, has to change soon…
But that said, being absolutely fair and sensible, I cannot see us getting more than one victory, if that, by next Saturday pm.
Palace looks to me like 1-1 at best, maybe after ET. And maybe just possibly a win after penalties if we are lucky. Man City (3rd XI probably) in a half empty stadium (so I’ve heard) clearly will be a cake walk. And Everton? A draw at best, no matter how badly they are playing and how toxic the crowd.
Am I a true fan? Answers on a postcard please…


mushinexile added 13:18 - Jan 6
If NJ were to manage us to three wins in a row, it would be necessary to re evaluate the need for his removal. Three defeats unfortunately looks the more likely outcome.

Ali_Diarea added 14:42 - Jan 6
I’m actually hoping that Palace score a hatful against us to force the hand of the muppets who are currently running our club.

Get an experienced manager in before Everton and maybe just maybe it’s not too late to save our PL status.

Mitch46 added 14:55 - Jan 6
Jones has got to be sacked if we have any chance of staying up.
It was an appalling decision to appoint him.

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