The last remaining side that we have yet to play is Southampton so ahead of our trip down to the South Coast, TEB had a chat with our pals at St. Mary.s Musings.
Q. Looking back, how do you rank last season?
Last season was a successful failure, similar to that of the Apollo 13 space mission. It was a failure in that we found ourselves amongst the relegation fodder but obviously a success that we were able to maintain our nerve long enough to keep Premier League status.
Q. What were your hopes for the season and how does that compare with how the season has gone so far?
I’m a fairly realistic Southampton fan. I didn’t think we’d be immediately pushing for a top half finish, which some thought we would do purely based on the fact that Ralph Hasenhuttl had some okay results in the run in to safety. Our summer transfer business just wasn’t good enough to warrant that expectation and to be quite honest, we had done just enough to stay up. I was hopeful that we would at least be away from the relegation zone, so in thinking that, we are not where I expected but it is not surprising.
Q. Is the pressure on Ralph Hasenhüttl to do more than just survive in the Premier League or are fans just not convinced?
If you read the papers or the #SaintsFC hashtag then yes, Hasenhuttl is under pressure for his job. Realistically, the board wouldn’t make a change so there’s little threat to his position. I think with what he’s got at his disposal, surviving in the Premier League is a pretty tall task in itself.
Q. How was the summer transfer window for the club? Were all needs addressed?
We confirmed our purchase of Danny Ings and that has to be the best £20million-ish fee that we’ve made in recent years. I had my reservations long-term about his previous ability to stay healthy, but he’s proven me wrong and it’s now imperative that he remains on the pitch. We go as he goes. Outside of that, we still lack a commanding defender, our patchwork defence of Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek is hit or miss week to week. At one point this season, Stephens wasn’t even being included in the match day squad and now he’s one of the first names on the team sheet.
Going back to Ings, we also purchased Che Adams and, not through his own fault, has been a dud. He spent all his goals during pre-season and just has had zero confidence since. I feel somewhat bad for him, but think this was always going to be the case.
Q. The introduction of VAR this season has not gone to plan so far – what is your view of the system and how it is being used?
I love it. It has saved our season so far. Shout out to Charlie Adams, I’m probably one of three Saints fans who still likes the guy. He might be a [expletive deleted], but he helped usher in VAR and we’ve definitely had our necks saved multiple times.
Q. One to watch for Southampton this season?
Fairly easy to say Danny Ings. He’s the only one who knows where the goal is and he’s just exciting to watch. He’s the prototypical Saints striker and has been tidy business.
Q. If you could pick one Palace player to sign, who would it be and why?
Is Wilfred Zaha still at Palace? Yeah, we’ll take him when he’s at his absolute best.
Q. Which Southampton player do Palace need to keep an eye on in the game?
Avoiding saying Ings again, so will go with James Ward-Prowse. All of our goals are coming via set pieces and he’s the ‘set-piece specialist’. He’s been great from all dead-ball situations – penalties, free-kicks and corner-kicks. He’s one out of five normally, but has been special as of a late and has been huge to our current run.
Q. Perhaps you could share your views on what you expect from Palace this season?
Comfortably safe, but hot and cold. I feel that’s what I always say about Palace and it holds true in 2019/20. I never know what exactly to expect when we play the Eagles, from either side really.
Q. Your prediction?
I think Saints will clip a 2-1 win. I like the way we’ve been playing and we’ve been at least trending in the right direction.