Alan Pardew is on his second return to one of his former stamping grounds in the space of four days and after the successful trip to East London he must hope that the journey to the South Coast works out as well.
One thing he needs to address is replacing two players who were instrumental in securing the win over West Ham. Glenn Murray’s eventful twenty-odd minutes on Saturday saw him score one fortuitous goal from a huge deflection off Cresswell and a smartly taken header before being sent off for a second yellow. It looks increasingly likely that Jedinak will also be suspended as the FA have charged him for an act of violent conduct and his ban will take immediate effect.
Changing a winning team is not something that can be taken lightly, but for the first time in many eons the depth of the Palace squad is such that there should be a chance for others to shine and the replacements should not undermine the quality unduly.
McArthur came on for Mutch at Upton Park and made an immediate impact with his diligent work rate and ability to hold on to the ball. Upfront the absence of three further forwards with Chammers, Campbell and Sanogo all out injured would normally leave a huge hole but Gayle could step in although he is not a natural leader of the line and it may mean the gangly Ameobi gets a starting role.
Southampton’s season has tailed off somewhat, as was highlighted by our victory recently in the FA Cup 4th round. But they still are a good outfit and are deservedly in the top six.
Koeman will be determined to get their own season back on track and it will be difficult to replicate the recent impressive win at St. Mary’s. This is especially true because of the absentees who include the scorers of all three goals that day, but Pardew has shown himself to be both flexible and resourceful in the way he sets up the team and also adapts as the game situation dictates.
If he can pull off another victory it would be a very sweet few days for Pardew as not only will he have thwarted two former clubs but Palace will be in touching distance of safety on the back of the exceptional form away from home. Talking of former clubs, he must be relishing being at a club that has complete faith in his abilities, where the fans are 100% supportive of him and that he is no longer seen as a political pawn of the owners. Long may it continue.
Richard’s first book The A-Z of Football Hates is available in bookshops and online
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