Palace - Saints One Year On
Crystal Palace host Southampton tomorrow, knowing that a year can make a world of difference in football. The last time these teams met at Selhurst Park an emotional 2-2 draw, with Premiership survival at stake, effectively relegated both sides. How times change.
This season Palace have stuttered their way to a playoff place while Southampton find themselves in mid-table thanks in part to the departures of Harry Redknapp and a host of players including Peter Crouch and Theo Walcott.
It is a series of off-field squabbles that have truly tested the patience of the Saints however. Sir Clive Woodward remains as technical director, as does chairman Rupert Lowe, but for how long? A group of local businessmen seeking to wrest control of the club have made volatile soundings in the direction of Lowe and Woodward to the press. The short-term future of the club appears unclear.
Against this traumatic backdrop new manager George Burley has quietly set about the task of reinvigorating Southampton’s on field performances. New players have arrived and the nucleus of a settled side is emerging.
Former Palace striker Ricardo Fuller will need careful marshalling, but the main threat to the Eagles will come from Grzegorz Rasiak. The Polish striker has shown form over the last two seasons that is simultaneously too good for the Championship yet not good enough for the Premiership. Palace will hope that he demonstrates Coca-Cola fizz and not champagne quality on Saturday.