Writer: Stef C
Date:Tuesday January 24 2006
Saints have another tough home game against Palace, just four days after the dismal performance against Ipswich.
On paper Palace are facing Saints at the perfect time, as George Burley's team were shocking on Saturday, following the sale of Theo Walcott last week.
The most important thing for fans will be to see a performance with determination, urgency and work rate. Even if the squad are struggling at present we just need to see the players get stuck in, give it their all and fight for the cause for the entire 90 minutes.
If the players do this hopefully the fans will leave the protesting behind and get fully behind the team. There's nothing better for the away team than to see a club openly in turmoil.
Palace will be aware from the start that if they get on top of Saints the fans will get agitated and turn on the chairman and the team - If this happens any home advantage is lost.
An away game may have suited Saints more tomorrow, such is the atmosphere and pressure at St Mary's at present.
George Burley: "Right now we need everyone pulling together - staff and players and fans. Everyone can see there is a lot to be done but we will get there if we stick together."
Djamel Belmadi will face a fitness test after limping out of the Ipswich game with a sore achilles.
Darren Powell and Rory Delap also picked up knocks in the match, but should both be fit.
Martin Cranie missed the game on Saturday with a thigh strain and is also doubtful for tomorrows game.
Nathan Dyer could return to the starting line up, after the 17-year-old was rested on Saturday.
Marian Pahars came through his first 90 minutes for nearly 2 years against Ipswich and it's a welcome boost for Saints that he's fit to continue in the squad.
Hopefully after being rested the fresh Dyer can return to bring some much neeeded pace and creativity to the side.
Palace only have defender Danny Granville and winger Marco Reich out - both players are currently returning to fitness and won't be ready for the match.
The lively striker is always a threat. Paul Smith should also keep well away from him when he latches onto through balls, as he has a habit of winning a lot of spot kicks!
In the head to head between the sides Saints are comfortably ahead, having won 29 times to Palace 19.
The last 3 meetings between the teams have ended in a score draw. Both games lasts season finished 2-2.
The match at Selhurst Park last season played a huge part in taking the south London side down with Saints, after Danny Higginbothams last gasp equaliser.
George Burley is yet to draw a game since taking over, so i'm going for his first draw and a third successive 2-2 draw in the fixture.
Date:Tuesday January 24 2006
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|10. AFC Bournemouth||12||4||3||5||-2||15|
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|16. Crystal Palace||12||3||2||7||-3||11|
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