Firstly I would like to welcome the directors, management, players and fans of Southampton to Selhurst Park for this afternoon’s game.
We have all become well-acquainted in recent seasons, having drawn each other in cup competitions in each of the last three seasons. It was a closely-fought match at St Mary’s in the EFL Cup back in September, and given the recent history between the teams, it should be another tight encounter this afternoon.
That would be in stark contrast to the game at the Liberty Stadium last weekend which was one of the most incredible matches I have ever witnessed – be it as a fan of this club or watching anyone else. A positive I took was that we battled back when adversity bit - as we have done numerous times this season - and recovered from being two goals down to lead 4-3 heading into stoppage-time, but unfortunately we came away with nothing.
While we can’t claim that conceding five goals is bad luck, our misfortune was evident in other areas as we saw Connor Wickham get stretchered off with a torn ACL. It is such a shame as Connor was getting his confidence back in front of goal, and this is another cruel setback for him. I like to wish him well in his recovery and look forward to seeing him back scoring goals in red and blue once again.
Long-term injuries haven’t gone our way this season, with Pape Souare and Loic Remy’s absences in particular hampering us. But we can’t make excuses as we head into today sitting just one place above the relegation zone, and everyone is aware that results have to turn the corner sooner rather than later to avoid dropping into the bottom three.
I am confident though that we will turn things around, and now we have entered December there is the opportunity for our fortunes to change drastically. Our next four fixtures will be spread across 15 days, and following Christmas itself, there are three more games in the space of nine days.
That means there’s 21 points up for grabs in the next month, and we’re only six behind today’s opponents who occupy the final spot in the top 10. Our aim for this season is to finish in the top half, and all football fans will appreciate the importance of a good run over the Christmas period which could help get us around that area of the table.
Therefore there is no need to panic just yet. Today’s game is a chance for us to finally claim that win we all crave, and you can play a part in that. Positivity in the stands transfers onto the pitch and improves performances, and while we are all frustrated with the recent form, we have to remain supportive and back those same players who were picking up good results earlier in the campaign.
As fans, we all have to pull together and do our bit from the stands with some loud vocal encouragement, and hopefully it’ll spur the guys on to get that elusive victory.
Up The Palace!