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Not one Premier League fan needs reminding of James Ward-Prowse‘s dead-ball qualities, and the Southampton skipper delivered on that front once again during his side’s battle with Brighton while also proving that he is not just a one-trick pony on set-pieces.
With Danny Welbeck‘s tap-in and Mohammed Salisu‘s own goal – and a well-taken one at that – putting Brighton two goals to the good, Ward-Prowse fired a free kick into the back of the net off the post on the stroke of half time before drilling in an effort from outside the area in front of the travelling fans.
Having made the journey back home across the South Coast with another point in the bag, Southampton have more or less staved off the threat of a late relegation scrap as they occupy 13th spot in the standings – 11 points clear of 18th-placed Everton, who do boast two games in hand.
A paltry tally of just one win from their last eight Premier League games has dented Southampton’s hopes of a top-half finish, but Leicester City and Newcastle United are still within touching distance as Ralph Hasenhuttl aims to steer the Saints to their first top-10 finish since 2016-17.
The hosts also ended a run of three straight home defeats in the Premier League with a 1-0 success over Arsenal two weeks ago, but that win represents their only clean sheet in any competition since the start of March, and Palace are desperate to rediscover their attacking touch.
Thoughts will be spared for Southampton youngster Tino Livramento this weekend, with the 19-year-old requiring oxygen as he was stretchered off with a season-ending ACL injury against Brighton.
Livramento may not be able to return to action until 2023, and Hasenhuttl will likely shift Kyle Walker-Peters back to the right-hand side as Romain Perraud comes in at left-back, unless Yan Valery does enough to warrant a start.
One positive for Hasenhuttl is that he has no other fresh concerns to contend with for the visit of the Eagles, with Alex McCarthy building up his fitness following a thigh injury, and Armando Broja will certainly hope to return to the side after a rare start for Shane Long at the Amex.
In contrast, Palace came out of Monday’s game with Leeds unscathed, but Tyrick Mitchell was a notable absentee from the Eagles’ squad, with Vieira claiming that the England international was “not at 100%” following a difficult run of games.
Luka Milivojevic should be in with a strong chance of coming back from a thigh injury in time for Saturday, but Nathan Ferguson remains out of contention after suffering a setback in his recovery from a similar issue.
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Michael Olise was also absent from the first XI against Leeds but will hope to regain his spot over Jordan Ayew, and Eberechi Eze‘s spot in the middle is also under threat from Jeffrey Schlupp.
Southampton possible starting lineup:
Forster; Walker-Peters, Salisu, Bednarek, Perraud; Redmond, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, S. Armstrong; Adams, Broja
Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Gallagher, Kouyate, Schlupp; Olise, Mateta, Zaha