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Crystal Palace 1 v 0 Southampton
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 12th September 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Saints At Crystal Palace The Preview
Friday, 11th Sep 2020 11:45

Saints head up to London for the opening game of the season, but will they raid the palace for the second time this calendar year or will it be our traditional poor start to the season, we take a look at the game here.

Saints usually start appallingly in a new season, it has become a standing joke and almost a tradition, but with this year seeing things done differently in football terms, perhaps it will break the cycle and it will be a rare win for Saints on the opening day.

I'm not even going to bother listing the opening dayers in the past 40 years where we have won, suffice to say I can count them on one hand.

But Selhurst Park is as traditionally a happy hunting ground for us as the opening fixture is a graveyard, so the hope is things can be different, firstly this doesn't feel like an opener it almost feels like last season hasn't stopped and this is just an extension and that could be to our advantage.

Palace had an awful end to last season and they will maybe feel the same way about this season and that would be a good thing for us.

There is not a lot that can be discussed about where the changes may be made for this game from the final day win over Sheffield United less than two months ago, of our two new signings Kyle Walker Peters was here on loan and Mohamed Salisu is far from fit at the moment, so injuries aside it is hard to see Ralph changing much from the 9 games after the restart

On the injury front aside from Salisu being unavailable, Stuart Armstrong has picked up a knock on International duty and is doubtful for the game, however the extend of the injury is unclear so this could more be Ralph playing mind games ahead of the clash than the Scot being 100% out.

So I would expect that the line up would be fairly similar to the Sheffield United game.

Alex McCarthy will start the season as number 1 although it is not quite clear who will be number 2, it will be Forster or Gunn with one going out on loan, but that is yet to be decided.

In the back four I think it will be business as usual with KWP, Bednarek, Stephens & Bertrand.

If we assume Armstrong isn't fit then a straight four across the middle of Smallbone, JWP, Romeu, Redmond with a front two of Ings & Adams.

The subs bench looks strong as well.

Forster/Gunn, Vestergaard, Vokins, Djenepo, Long & Obafemi look to be the probable first 6 on the bench and then Ralph has to pick from Boufal, Valery and perhaps even Josh Sims or Callum Slattery.

He has decent options out there although the manager himself has said he feels he needs a direct replacement for Hojbjerg to come in.

I hope that Ralph has learn't his lesson from last year, that he wont try a back three in this game, I think that is his ultimate aim, but to start with keep it simple and what served us so well during lockdown.

I think the squad is stronger than it was a year ago, both in terms of personnel, experience and more importantly team spirit.

Although we have lost Hojbjerg, our new signings of last year Adams & Djenepo now have a year working with Hasenhuttl under their belts and are more understanding of what is needed in the Premier League, add to that Kyle Walker Peters and the steady development of Michael Obafemi and I think that we have more about us than a year ago.

Yes we still need a central midfielder and I feel an experienced central defender, but we are moving forward.

What we have to avoid is the poor period we had last Autumn when we appeared to collapse like a pack of cards, after winning at Sheffield United a year ago to this weekend, we then went 8 Premier League games without a win, but more worryingly 6 were defeats and only 2 draws.

Things were so bad that we could only beat Portsmouth by four goals, a result that by their standards was celebrated as if they had won the cup and a low point for most Saints fans in the season.

When we look back at that period of play and what the table would have looked like if we had just hit relegation form of a point per game average during that spell, then it offers us hope for the future.

My worry though is that what truly cost us was individual errors and the biggest culprits are still likely to play, Ralph can coach in a team spirit and how he wants to play, but he cannot give a leopard new spots and I fear that the errors will continue as before, I hope I am proved wrong, but I have been saying the same thing for 3 1/2 years and it hasn't changed yet.

But there is plenty of cause for optimism and we just need Saints to continue where they left off and get three points and get us off to a good start for one.

Photo: Action Images

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Peterx added 12:04 - Sep 11
Thanks good analysis. I don't know if they would have the time as a team to work this out tactically, but I would prefer if they somehow replace the hard work of Armstrong with the hard work of Long and possibly have a fluid situation between Ings, Adams and Long with some midfield presence when required from this group.

Also Djenepo could get a look in although he has been better as an impact player to date.

schatfield added 12:51 - Sep 11
This is the perfect time to play Palace of all teams. Their home crowd is one of the most deafoning and really are the 12th man at home for Palace; whilst they still have no fans at home, lets stomp all over them!

codge added 15:50 - Sep 11
Excellent article a Nick l am also nervous about the same individual mistakes at the back but am also optimistic that we will have a better start than we normally have Coyr.

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Letters from Wiltshire #09 by wessex_exile
Letters from Wiltshire #08 by wessex_exile
Lots of discussion this week on football forums, including here, on two subjects – the petition to lobby parliament to allow limited numbers of supporters back into football grounds, and of course the return of that old chestnut from Man City Chief Executive Ferran Soriano, introducing Premier League ‘B’ teams into the EFL. First off, I don’t mind admitting I’ve signed the petition ( https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552036 ), as have 192,779 others at the time of writing, though I don’t actually think it’ll make any difference. I can completely understand why some do not think this is a good idea, as second-wave spikes of coronavirus infection pop up all over the country (mainly because – let’s face it – some people are dicks and can’t be trusted to sit the right way on a toilet). But to me, the two go hand in hand (not dicks and toilets) – whilst football clubs throughout the country struggle financially without spectators, we are always going to be under threat of this sort of ‘B’ team nonsense as a condition of financial support from the Premier League fat cats. They got their way in 2016 with the EFL trophy, who’s to say they won’t again when the financial squeeze really starts to tighten its grip without paying customers through the turnstiles? Robbie has featured prominently in this debate in recent weeks, and looks like he will again on Sky tomorrow if this tweet from Sophy Ridge is anything to go by -
Letters from Wiltshire #07 by wessex_exile

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