Crystal Palace vs Southampton preview: Can the Eagles begin Hodgson era with a win?

The hosts are yet to pick up a point and face a stuttering Saints side in Roy Hodgson's first game in charge

Crystal Palace vs Southampton preview: Can the Eagles begin Hodgson era with a win?
Hodgson takes charge of Palace for the first time | Photo: Getty images / Warren Little

Roy Hodgson returns to Premier League management with Crystal Palace on Saturday, and the Eagles are hoping to record their first points of the season at home to Southampton.

The former England boss replaced the sacked Frank de Boer who had overseen the worst start to a season made by any club for over 90 years. The South Londoners have lost each of their opening four games without scoring a goal.

Palace aiming to turn a corner

A 3-0 opening day defeat to Huddersfield Town set the tone for what proved to be a toxic reign for Dutch football legend de Boer at Palace. There appeared to be a slight improvement the following week, despite their 1-0 reverse against Liverpool, but a 2-0 home defeat to Swansea City made de Boer’s job untenable.

He was afforded the international break and one extra game to turn the predicament around. He needed to beat Burnley but didn’t. Another defeat by a single goal, scored when Chung-yong Lee’s horrendous back pass was intercepted by Chris Wood, cost the former Ajax man his job, although he will feel slightly unfortunate as his side played well.

Hodgson now has a huge job on his hands. A squad low on confidence, bottom of the table and already three points from safety after four games will need a big morale boost as soon as possible.

The Eagles were clearly unable to adapt to de Boer’s possession-based, ‘total football’ methods and his 3-4-3 formation and Hodgson’s arrival, while underwhelming, brings a sense of going back to basics.

Southampton stuttering

While much better than Palace, the Saints have also struggled to get going this season. The South Coast side have five points from their opening four games – a win and two draws.

Their only victory came against West Ham United while their draws were goalless stalemates against Swansea and Huddersfield.

A lack of productivity in the final third appears to be the Saints’ weakness under new boss Mauricio Pellegrino – a front-runner for the Palace job in the summer prior to de Boer’s appointment. January signing Manolo Gabbiadini has failed to rekindle the form that he produced in the months after his arrival and has scored just once this season.

Team news

Palace expect to have Ruben Loftus-Cheek and James Tomkins back following their respective thigh injuries. Defender Pape Souare is now deemed fully fit having played twice for the Under-23 side during his recovery from his horrific car accident last year. Mamadou Sakho and Wilfried Zaha are unlikely to feature while Connor Wickham remains the only long-term absentee.

Southampton could be buoyed by the return of defender Virgil van Dijk who has not featured for the Saints’ first team since January. The Dutchman failed to secure his seemingly likely move to Liverpool in the summer transfer window and Pellegrino is keen to re-introduce the centre-back into the senior side having completed minutes for the development squad.