Southampton suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace at St Mary’s, as Saints now find themselves truly within the relegation battle, with only goal difference keeping them out of the relegation zone.
Mauricio Pellegrino made more changes to the side that defended well to pick up a point against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Alex McCarthy retained his place between the sticks whilst Jeremy Pied and Ryan Bertrand were brought in to replace Sam McQueen and Wesley Hoedt, who had a concussion. The rest of the team remained the same.
Southampton could have been ahead after 15 seconds through Shane Long after he was set up by Dusan Tadic after a long ball straight from kick-off, but the Irishman fired the ball over the crossbar.
After 17 minutes, Southampton were ahead through Shane Long, yes, Shane Long scored his first goal since February. Ryan Bertrand’s initial cross evaded everybody, but found Pied on the opposite flank. Pied’s low cross was met by Long who smashed the ball neatly into the corner to end his goal drought.
Crystal Palace had their first sight at goal just past the hour mark as Wilfried Zaha found Christian Benteke in the centre of the penalty area, who swiveled before his low shot was superbly saved by McCarthy.
Five minutes later, Palace were back on level terms through James McArthur. Andros Townsend’s dinked cross into the box was headed across goal by Benteke from an initial set piece, and McArthur was there to smash the ball past a helpless McCarthy. The defending was woeful.
10 minutes later, proceedings went from bad to worse for Southampton as they found themselves behind. Once again, Zaha was causing problems for Saints and drove the ball across the pitch towards Bakary Sako and Andros Townsend. The ball was eventually played into the centre of the pitch towards Luka Milivojevic, who was in literal acres of space, no Southampton midfielder to be found anywhere near him, although take nothing away from his sensational distant finessed finish into the corner of the net.
From a corner, Southampton had a chance to equalise through Manolo Gabbiadini. Bertrand’s corner was met by Oriol Romeu, whose header was heading wide but Gabbiadini was close to making contact with the ball, although replays showed that his shirt was being held.
At full-time, the boos rang around the ground and on a day where chairman Ralph Krueger pretty much said that he had faith in Pellegrino and that all this “malaise”, so to speak, is all from Virgil Van Dijk’s negativity, rather than Pellegrino’s managerial style… yeah good luck convincing people with that one. Ryan Bertrand was also confronted by a set of supporters on the pitch.
Saints needed to pick up the three points in this game, considered a true six-pointer, now Southampton are genuine relegation candidates. Southampton next face Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday in the FA Cup before going to Vicarage Road to face Watford, who are also on a torrid run of results.