Ahead of the rearranged match against the Saints, TEB caught up with the guys at St Marys Musings to find out about their season, thoughts ahead of kick off and much more.
Q. What did you make of the game between the two sides at Selhurst Park earlier in the season?
With the momentum we had built up during the football restart, I think everyone in the Southampton camp expected a win over Palace, no offence. We got that wrong. We got the entire start to the season wrong. Particularly when we dominated possession, we had nothing to show for it. We were also fortunate that we finished with all 11 men since Kyle Walker-Peters had his red card overturned by VAR. That’s about the only time we’ve had any luck with VAR this year it seems!
Q. It has been quite a mixed season for the Saints, right?
I would say it has been a season that’s been pretty on par for the course for Saints. We overperformed when we hit our stride – overachieved in the table – built up some unrealistic expectations – crashed back down to earth – and have been limping to the finish line. I think the annoying thing is some people thought we were actual title contenders when we were at the top of the table early in the season. People still point that out when it was at least six months ago now. I think we’re now under performing based on the potential we have, but for whatever reason the players and managers just can’t put together 90 minutes of football on a consistent basis and when you’re only a goal to the good or in a 0-0 stalemate, one or two chances makes all the difference.
Q. A narrow loss in the FA Cup semi final to Leicester must sting a bit, right?
It’s hard to say it stung when we were never actually in the game. Neither team was particularly good that day, but to not put a shot on target is the most disappointing part of it. The FA Cup was the basket we had all our eggs in – we really let our league form just go based on team selection – and to not get to the finals with a more than favourable draw was a let down.
Q. Can we talk about the elephant in the room?
Might as well have lost 1-0 them games. All it did was count as a loss in the table. Our goal differential is going to matter when we sit in the middle of the table!
Q. How was your business in the January transfer window and do you have needs in the summer?
We had no business – outside of bringing in Takumi Minamino on loan. We will likely need to address our left back, strikers and goalkeepers in the off-season. It seems unlikely Ryan Bertrand is going to extend his contract whilst Danny Ings, well, you never know what’s going to happen there, and no-one knows if Fraser Forster or Alex McCarthy is the number one or if either are in fact the number one anymore. The Ings situation is a tricky one, he’s been a great servant during his time with us, but his injuries have piled up this year and he’s looked only half himself since getting COVID back in January. If he’s looking for that last big move or payday, you’d think now is the time because we certainly won’t give him the money he wants.
Q. Who has been the stand out player for Southampton so far this season?
I would say James Ward-Prowse has been the stand-out player. Everyone knows what he can do from dead ball situations but he’s been a real workhorse in midfield. I still think we lack a true captain – a la Jose Fonte or Steven Davis – but he’s growing into the role, which will be pivotal down the line. Our best teams have always had an on field general and he can be that player.
Q. What do you make of Palace this season?
Again, like Saints there’s always similarities. We both pick up wins when we probably shouldn’t and fail to perform when we should pick up points. Roy Hodgson has definitely been a great appointment since taking over in 2017 and has made the difference in keeping you guys at least in the middle of the division.
Q. How are you feeling about the doomed European Super League and the fan power that followed the announcement?
With the way things are going with VAR and football in general, I’ve become less interested in football by the moment. It’s harder to want to tune in each week. I’m just glad that fans had their voices heard for once. It’s been a difficult go at it the last year, but without being able to be in the stands at least fans have made it clear their position with big money moves.
Q. Name one player from each team that you believe will be a threat to the opposition in this match.
I still think Andros Townsend is the one to watch for you guys. He always impacts the game in one way or another and it’ll be an interesting battle as always. I think Nathan Tella is the one to watch for Saints – if he starts or gets given ample time. He’s shown his class and pace throughout the season and if he continues on his trajectory could be the next big name at the club.
Q. …and finallly, your all important prediction?
I’ll say 1-1 draw. There’s not much going for us, but we’re coming off our best 90 minute performance of the season, even being down to 10 men for 80 minutes of it!