Premier League Preview: Southampton v Crystal Palace
By Football News
Southampton welcome Crystal Palace to St Mary's on Saturday on the back of a run of five Premier League home games without a win.
Mauricio Pochettino's side have not won a Premier League fixture at St Mary's since March, when goals from Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert gave them a 2-1 victory over Chelsea.
They have drawn both of their home top-flight matches so far this term - against Sunderland and West Ham - but go into this encounter with Ian Holloway's struggling Palace outfit after a morale-boosting 1-0 success at Liverpool last week.
Southampton followed their win at Anfield up with a 2-0 victory over Bristol City in the League Cup third round on Tuesday, and one of their goalscorers from that game - Gaston Ramirez - is hoping his performance will help force his way back into Pochettino's Premier League plans.
The Uruguay international is yet to start a top-flight game this season, but has scored two in two League Cup fixtures and has pledged to fight for his place.
"The level of competition is why I like being here," Ramirez said.
"Me and my team-mates know that only 11 players can start each game, so everybody is fighting hard to get into the team - myself included.
"I am very happy with how the Bristol City game went. These games are very important for me to get my confidence back.
"Now I have to keep working and waiting for my chance in the league."
Pochettino has a fully fit sqaud to choose from after Daniel Fox (ankle) and Tadanari Lee (knock) returned against Bristol City.
The Argentinian's side have lost just one of their five Premier League matches this campaign, and boast the joint second best defence in the division having conceded just two goals so far.
By contrast, newly promoted Palace have found the going tough since winning promotion from the Championship, picking up just three points from a possible 15.
Manager Holloway, who returns to the dugout for this game after serving a two-match touchline ban, has seen his side lose their last two games 2-0 to Manchester United and Swansea City respectively.
Palace sit second bottom of the table and goalkeeper Julian Speroni is under no illusions as to the size of the challenge they face this season.
"There are no easy games in the Premier League," he said.
"That's why we're here, to play against the best players in the world. It's going to be a tough game away from home but we're looking forward to the challenge."
Speroni sustained a head injury in the defeat to Swansea but expects to be fit for the trip to St Mary's, although Holloway has a lengthy absentee list to contend with.
Jonathan Williams and Jack Hunt (both ankle), Yannick Bolasie (hamstring) and Glenn Murray (knee) are all long-term absentees, although captain Patrick McCarthy and Jonathan Parr could return for their first appearances of the season.