FT 90 +4
Referee : Mike Dean
Attendance : 24,914
Crystal Palace 44%
Crystal Palace 12
Crystal Palace 5
Crystal Palace 8
Crystal Palace 11
Saints in charts
Crystal Palace v Southampton
Selhurst Park, Saturday 12th December 2015
> Gazzaniga excellent in goal
> Saints lacking confidence
I have been putting off doing this report, because it is just so flipping depressing. The only positive of the whole sorry saga was the performance of Saints third choice goalkeeper. Gazzaniga has had his chances over the years and each time been found wanting. This time he was more than fine, but the rest of the team were found wanting. I have seen a theory from IBO's resident development squad expert, that being the overage player in a young squad has given him the confidence to bark orders at the players and by God do the first team need that now. They are devoid of confidence and also it now turns out that Graziano Pellè has been carrying an injury for a while and was on the bench.
There was general scratching of heads when the team was announced at just after 2pm. No sign of Stekelenburg in goal, with Gazzaniga coming in to the first team, with Kelvin Davis on the bench. Does this mean that Kelvin is now the third choice keeper? Up front it seemed to be Long and Mané, with Steven Davis behind them. Romeu and Wanyama were the midfield with a back five of Cédric, Yoshida, Fonte, van Dijk and Bertrand. So, essentially Cédric and Bertrand were to be wing backs as usual, leaving the three central defenders bailing out water from the leaking ship. The trouble with this idea is manifold. Just for a start, Bertrand is going backwards from last year (like the team), Wanyama just doesn't seem that bothered to defend (which is his job) and Romeu is an attacking midfielder, not a defensive one. Clasie, as the only other defensive midfielder seems to be unable to complete 90 minutes at the moment and was an unused sub on the bench.
Right from the off it was clear that Palace were going to throw everything down the wings, with Bolasie in particular looking dangerous. Saints were tied up in knots by Palace and eventually the line was breached. It is futile to point the finger at any player in particular, but suffice to say that Gazzaniga had no chance and that classy frenchman Cabeye scored a simple goal. Without Gazzaniga, Saints would have gone in at the break several goals down, rather than just the one, as he gave easily the best performance in his time at Saints, pulling off three really great saves in the first half alone.
The second half did see an improvement, with Saints dominating possession, keeping hold of the ball as we have seen in many games this season, but not actually doing very much with it. Mané in particular seemed to want to thread the eye of a needle, rather than get on with it. Over-elaboration was the Saints buzz-word this week. The problem, as again we have seen far too often this season, is that when Saints have the ball, so long is taken to work it around from side to side and back again, that the opposition have loads of time to get themselves organised.
For all this dithering, Long had a couple of decent chances that he would have buried on another day. One came deep into time added on at the end of the match, when Tadić, who had come on for Davis, crossed the ball right to the Irishman's feet and he hit the ball straight at Hennessey in the Palace goal.
I could hardly believe the after match interview with Koeman, as what he was talking about seemed so far removed from what I had seen. He was quoted as saying, "I'm disappointed about the final result, but not in the performance of the team"
"The wind made it very difficult to play our football. Maybe it suited Palace more because they play more direct than we do, but we controlled it for 20 minutes but then they scored. We were the better team in second half and dominated, and we're disappointed not score in the last seconds"
"Maybe we lack a bit of confidence, but the boys showed good character. It's now four or five games where we don't win. I'm a little bit worried about that but not worried about the spirit."
I am sorry Ron, but you could only be pleased with the goalkeeper, the rest didn't seem too sure what was going on and as for Palace being the direct team . . . . .
Next up is Spurs at St.Mary's on Saturday. Goodness knows what will happen then.
42 Puncheon (Mutch - 85' )
21 Wickham (Chamakh - 92' )
14 Lee Chung-yong
17 van Dijk
03 Yoshida (Tadic - 67' )
14 Romeu (Ward-Prowse - 79' )
08 Davis (Pellè - 67' )