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Saints V Crystal Palace The Verdict
Sunday, 29th Dec 2019 10:50

It was the last game of the decade for Saints, they hoped to go out with a bang, they almost did but it was still a good ending of the year after 7 points out of the last 9 see us clear of the relegation zone.

Saints went into this game with great hopes, but they struggled to get started and had to rely on VAR to keep the score level at half time, but the disallowed goal showed the defensive frailties still remain and need to be addressed, when Zaha pulled the ball back there were four defenders on our own six yard line and one Palace player on his own on the penalty spot and an easy pass for Zaha.

Danny Ings coming in for Obafemi was expected, Boufal for Armstrong was a surprise, Ralph Hasenhuttl opting for guile rather than the more direct Scot, in truth this didn't really pay off Boufal made some good runs but too often his trickery had little end product.

When the half time whistle blew the game was flat for Saints and so was the crowd.

The second half started badly for Saints and again they gifted a goal that organisation would have easily avoided, the offside trap from the crossed free kick was non existent and then Tomkins was given a free header from close range that he buried.

At this point it looked bad for Saints we were struggling to break down a Palace side who were resolute and the atmosphere was flat.

The game changing moment was the introduction of Djenepo, he had the trickery of Boufal but he was also a lot more direct and offered more pace, the balance of the team was a little awry though as he had come on for Adams, so effectively we had three wingers on, that was soon rectified as Boufal departed for Armstrong and after being gifted an equaliser when Ings benefited from a bad back pass and the final 20 minutes saw both the team and crowd up for it.

If we had played as we did in the final 20 minutes for even just half of the game we would have won it, at the end though most Saints supporters left the stadium in a happy mood and feeling that a draw was a fair result between two teams who had rolled their sleeves up and battled.

Both sides perhaps had cause for complaint, Palace's ruled out goal should really have been allowed and Saints will feel that the visitors should have gone down to 10 men for a series of challenges from serial offenders that at one point saw Hojbjerg's shirt being ripped from his back.

One thing should be noted, two months ago we would have lost this game, now we have the resilience and fight to come back from a goal down and when games aren't going our way.

But overall a good end to the year for a Saints side who have turned things round in the last two months and have pulled themselves free from the relegation zone.

Things are still not quite right, the defensive issues remain and need to be solved, but we have a lot to build on now and attacking wise we can score goals.

After the defeat to Leicester I would not have put much money on us being out of the bottom three come today, but we are and we have an achievable challenge ahead of us, we need to average a point a game between now and the end of the season and seeing as we have done more than that after what has been a disastrous first quarter of the season, we can if we remain focused match that in the second half of the campaign.

So many good things to be taken from the last few games and we can go forward with positivity.

Photo: Action Images

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davidargyll added 11:08 - Dec 29
My goodness, Just like footie at SMS ought to be, particularly as the crowd was so much better and noisier than recently.
And what commitment by every Saints player; every one, and I mean every one of them was up for it. And even the three I’ve had a really downer on, namely Che, PEH and JWP, were terrific, with great passing and what’s more ceaseless mixing it with the oppo.
And when a West Ham player did get the ball, we didn’t hang off them and let them run into space, we really tackled, and not just one or two, often three, of us against one of theirs. And guess what, we won back the ball! It was terrific to see.
Two points I want to make:
In H1, it seemed to me that Soares was often in lots of space on the RHS but was ignored and the ball was passed down the left. Was it because Zaha always seemed to be lurking to his left and he might have snatched a slightly misplaced pass? In H2 however he was given lots of the ball and did some good crossing, most too close to the keeper admittedly, but still you can’t cross if you don’t have the ball.
A managerial direction at halftime maybe?
Secondly Moussa Djenepo! What can I say?! When he first came on he made three or four complete balls-up and kept on falling over! But he didn’t give up and then, WOW WHAT A PLAYER! Jinked to the left, jinked to the right and then back again, and several times more and what a shot! He is going to be amazing over the next few months.
To summarise, we won the first half easily, the VAR-disallowed goal notwithstanding, lost the first half of H2 then won the last quarter. So maybe after an enthralling 90 minutes a draw was a bit harsh as we might have nicked it late on. But I think i will not be alone in believing that great Churchillian phrase:”This is not the end, thus is not even the beginning of the end but it might be the end of the beginning...”
PS. Woy Hodgson always comes across as a very nice man on TV but, my Christ, he’s not quite the same on the touch line! For most of the match he was a really grumpy, bad tempered and aggressive old sod so perhaps not the saintly character he endeavours to portray!
PPS. That Zaha was quite a handful yesterday but, like a lot of talented and sleaky players, put them under a bit of pressure and suddenly the shine comes off them a bit, which was exactly what happened yesterday.

highfield49 added 11:10 - Dec 29
I can't help thinking that the zonal defending system as opposed to man marking has a lot to do with our problems at the back. This was typified by their disallowed goal where nobody picked up the Palace player whilst four Saints players were marking space. Anyhow, a good result against a tough Palace team and a decent foundation to build on in the second part of the season. Happy New Year to all.

saintmark1976 added 12:00 - Dec 29
A very enjoyable game with a fair result in the end. I've been previously critical of J W P but recently he appears to have uped his game,particularly in regard to tackling, all credit to him. Regretfully the same can't be said of Redmond who still wouldn't mix it physically and yesterday returned to type, headless chicken mode once again. Why he wasn't sustituted only the manager knows.

Happy New year Saints fans all over the world.

underweststand added 12:21 - Dec 29
This fixture (home or away) often turns up around Christmas, and generally speaking we rarely end up with all the points. Palace's tough back line doesn't take any prisoners, and our lightweight midfield /defenders took the brunt of it, but all things considered it was probably a fair result, and we might even have won if Palace's goalie had shorter arms.

Good to see that PEH and JWP had taken david argyll and saintmark's criticisms seriously, and although Che Adams hasn't found the net yet , it's not for the want of trying and he DAJFU yesterday - and at Chelsea.
Djenepo wasn't quite MoM for Saints, but he deserves an honourable mention for his exciting runs, and shooting skill. Thankfully Danny Ings did the business for us again.

Will be interesting to see Ralph's line-up v.Spurs which is the one fixture that I really want us to win every season, and so a repeat of the last match at SMS would make a great New Year's present especially with Leicester and Liverpool coming in the next few weeks.

Consigliere added 12:58 - Dec 29
Well that game answered one of my criticisms of the team very firmly - it was really entertaining to watch!

I agree with other posters that a draw was a justified outcome for both teams. who were really going for it but we still look at bit frail at the back. In fairness, players were tracking back (particularly to push Zaha out to the wings - he may be a pantomime villain but I wouldn't have mind him in our line-up) but the defence remains the main issue. JWP - the butt of much criticism - has played really well in the last two games and young Armstrong is developing into a useful player but as others have said, for sheer excitement value, Djenepo is the man even if he has that infuriating habit of Fabrice Fernandez (remember him?) of beating the same defender three times over!

Maybe, just maybe, we might be heading for mid-table mediocrity?

helpineedsomebody added 14:54 - Dec 29

wibbersda added 17:10 - Dec 29
Well I think we now know that an Adam's-Ings partnership does not work. There is no link up between them. He needs to get that first goal to kick on from but I think he can only be used as a Sub for Ings. Not to did him out, as we always do, but Stephen's needs to practice his jumping for the ball.He would have stopped Palaces goal. Credit to Palace, their defence was resistant and perhaps we chould have broken them down if we played all game the way we did in the last 15mins. 2020 here we come!

RednWight added 07:56 - Dec 30
Being pedantic Nick, the final game of the decade will be in about a years time
Ten years tends to go from 1 to 10 then start again at 11

Daisy_cutter added 11:10 - Dec 30
As a season ticket holder, I believe Ings & Adams as a partnership just needs a couple of goals from Adams and he will shake those chains off his back and allow him to enjoy his game, our centre-halves are still young as centre-halves go and I can see them gelling into a good partnership, As for JWP he is our engine and without him, I think we would still be in the bottom 3 if not bottom. Redmond just needs a rocket up his backside before the game and at half time for us to see the best out of him every game instead of just when he feels like it which has not been that often this season looks like Hojberg & Cedric are off at the end of the season so with lack of cover for Berty we will need these three positions covered, hopefully, Djenepo can shrug off his injuries and a good run in the side and win or lose we can see a bit of excitement back at St Mary's that us home fans deserve after these last few seasons of watching very disappointing football.

SanMarco added 11:42 - Dec 30
Technically correct RednWight but everyone is going to call it the 2020s aren't they? So 2020 is in the 2020s and 2030 isn't. The last century actually ended at the end of 2000 but you wouldn't have known it!!

As for football - I think we are just about back on an even keel after the 9-0 fiasco- still not out of the woods. A good solid CB has to come in. What would be really cathartic would be a win at Leicester in a couple of weeks!!

Happy New Year to you all...

BoondockSaint added 15:47 - Dec 30
How many goals has Ings got from mistakes by defenders or goal keepers this year?
I reckon at least 4. This is a result of his work rate, always ready to pounce (and he knows where the goal is-unlike others)......Hope this rubs off on the rest of the team.

ElSanto added 15:52 - Dec 30
I'm a fan of Boufal, but against palace I witnessed his limitations. He was terrible and closing down and being a team player. Too often he made stupid movements/decisions.

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