Southampton-Crystal Palace Preview
Crystal Palace will be hoping to move a step closer to Premier League safety as they welcome Southampton to Selhurst Park on Saturday.
Palace (8-3-16) have taken 10 points from the last six games to move out of the relegation zone, but remain just three points above the bottom three and will need to maintain their impressive level of performances under manager Tony Pulis if they are to pick up the points required to guarantee league survival.
Pulis has been credited with stamping his own style on the Crystal Palace team, in a manner not dissimilar to his opposite number on Saturday, and the Palace boss has spoken in glowing terms about visitors Southampton ahead of the match.
"I think the manager has done a fantastic job there, I’ve watched them a few times," said Pulis of counterpart Mauricio Pochettino. "They have got an identity to their team and they play in a certain way. It’s a little bit different to most teams in the Premier League. Their rotation with the front three and the way they use their full-backs is excellent. As a coach or a manager, you enjoy watching certain teams because you can actually see what they’re trying to achieve and trying to do.
"They make it very difficult for the opposition. But we’re at our place and we want to be positive and we want to make sure we do what we think we’re good at. Hopefully that will be a good enough to give Southampton a good game because they are a good team."
Southampton (10-9-9) are comfortably mid-table, likely to miss out on the automatic European qualification places but almost definitely assured of a top-half finish. Despite the club’s season appearing to be all-but over, the Saints players will still have plenty to play for with one eye on the summer’s World Cup, particularly after both Adam Lallana and fullback Luke Shaw impressed for England in the midweek internationals.
"It was like a dream, it was kind of weird…but I think I handled it quite well," said Shaw after making his international debut in the 1-0 win over Denmark. "It has been an emotional week and the best week of my life. I’ll never forget this week.
"The Saints fans have been great – they’ve always been great to me. I think last night was a proud moment for them as well – not just for my debut, but to see Adz (Lallana) come on and play that well. To set up the winner was great for him and for the Club as a whole. I think Adam is nailed-on for Brazil with the way he’s been performing for his club and now his country. We know what talent Adam has, and yesterday he proved it to the world.
"It’s great for me too, but I’m just going to stay myself. I’m not going to change after playing for England, so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing."
Palace have injury doubts over Damien Delaney (calf), Marouane Chamakh (hamstring), Kagisho Dikgacoi (back) and Joe Ledley (hip), while Southampton are expected to be without Jos Hooiveld (eye).
Southampton ran out 2-0 winners at St Mary’s back in September, thanks to early second-half goals by Pablo Osvaldo and Rickie Lambert two minutes apart. That was the first meeting between the clubs in the top flight for a decade, although they each accumulated four wins and three draws in 11 matches in the intervening years.