Crystal Palace have the FA Cup final to look forward to, but before that they must look to end their Premier League season with a first away win since December when they take on a Southampton side that is within sight of a top six finish.
The unexpected title success of Leicester City and the plight of some of English football’s powerhouses at the other end of the table have combined to ensure that Southampton’s superb form over the second half of the season has gone harshly under the radar. Notable wins over the past two weekends have propelled them into their current lofty position, so European football and a record top-flight points tally are a very real prospect.
Not enough credit came their way after Manchester City were swept aside, while a lot of the attention was focused on a beaten Tottenham after they were overturned on their own patch, but the Saints attacked with great quality in both and gained the rewards to go with it. Steven Davis was the hero at White Hart Lane, with his brace helping to underline his importance to the team’s forward dynamic.
As they arrive at the St. Mary’s Stadium for the end of another successful campaign, supporters will be hoping that this does not turn out to be Ronald Koeman’s final match in charge. He is an in-demand manager and will be difficult to hang on to, but if he stays the club can go on to achieve even better things.
Unlike their opponents, the second half of the season has been less kind to Crystal Palace as far as the Premier League is concerned, with a potential shot at a place in next season’s Europa League being replaced by a battle to attain the points needed in order to stay away from relegation danger. That they have finally managed, having beaten Stoke City last weekend.
The FA Cup final will be at the forefront of their mind, but the Eagles’ players should have every reason to be motivated for this one as it is their last chance to show manager Alan Pardew that they are worthy of a place in the starting XI at Wembley. Striker Dwight Gayle has done his chances no harm after scoring both goals against Stoke, a display that reiterated that he is the clubs most – and arguably only – natural goalscorer.
The home side have no new injury concerns, and could name an unchanged team as they look to extend their winning run.
Joe Ledley is out for Crystal Palace, who could decide to rest several players ahead of their trip to Wembley. Yohan Cabaye and Wilfried Zaha are both doubtful.
Last Meeting: Southampton had failed to score in three home matches before Sadio Mane finally found the net to give them a slender victory in March 2015. The Senegalese forward was there to pounce after goalkeeper Julian Speroni had failed to hold a shot from James Ward-Prowse. The closest Palace came to scoring was when Wilfried Zaha struck a post.