Another week, another 3 points!
Southampton may not be the force they have been in recent years, season upon season of selling their best talent appears to be finally taking its toll, but it was a more than capable Saints team that travelled to Selhurst on Saturday, with several players still attracting the interest of big clubs. It was our own stars that came out shining more brightly though, with Yannick Bolasie and Yohan Cabaye leaving many in red and blue positively drooling over their abilities.
Last year, Yannick’s performances had him linked with several clubs, most notably Spurs (although how much of this was pure speculation is another matter), if recent displays are to be used as an indicator – you can’t help thinking the usual suspects will have our beloved number 10 again in their transfer mongering sights!
Why, however, would he want to leave at this point? You could understand a desire to join a club truly outside of our level, readily competing in the Champions League and for title after title in a top division, the true giants of world football. Anything else, however, would seem rather pointless at this stage.
The next level down, while still arguably a step up, would be to a Liverpool or a Tottenham, a team who right now are in a similar position to us anyway. At Palace we have a setup that suits Yannick’s abilities down to the ground, where he is a regular starter every week. To leave for an unknown, in which his style may or may not suit them (and their fans!), would seem to be a rather big gamble for what is becoming a much smaller jump.
Our next two games, which could have a big say as to where we position ourselves in January, are both away from home (Stoke and Bournemouth) and no doubt our away form will be mentioned again. While that record remains true over the course of the calendar year and Alan Pardew’s reign, it may surprise a few to learn we have now won as many at Selhurst as on our travels this season and scored more too (albeit having played two less)!
If we could win both of those games, we could find ourselves as high up as in a Champions League spot and wouldn’t that look appealing going into the January window! That said, I find myself questioning just where would/should we want to invest at this point? After the last deadline, I was disappointed that we had failed to bring in another central defender – Delaney has since gone up a level and seems to have negated that need. Fans will no doubt crave a goal scorer, but having paid a large figure for the as yet untested Wickham, one would be surprised to see another big investment up top.
As great as Pape Soure has been for us, I think I would like to see someone who could play down the left to add some competition in that area – especially as we were left shorthanded during his spell out injured.
All of that said, we still need to win these games and with Stoke up next, that could be easier said than done. Mark Hughes has turned a team with a rather shaky reputation for ‘total football’ into one full of flair and talent. The likes of Bojan and Shaqiri have really mixed things up at the Britannia, although the English eye can’t help but focus on the man between the sticks and one of the Premier League’s most impressive shot stoppers, Jack Butland. Their number one’s form this season has been unbelievable and with top quality displays earning him seven clean sheets, I for one can’t help but wonder if he should be ahead of Joe Hart in England’s pecking order.
Palace fans will be pointing out that our own keeper, Wayne Hennessey, has been outstanding of late, single handedly saving all three points versus Southampton, as well as earning a deserved point away at Everton. With England coming up against Wales in the Euros at the end of season, this could be an interesting clash for a certain Hodgson to keep his eye on…maybe he might accidently notice a certain Scott Dann, Wilfried Zaha or Jason Puncheon as he does!
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