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Two sides still with a bit of work to do to assure themselves of safety in the Premier League prepare for battle at St Mary’s on Saturday lunchtime, as Southampton play host to Crystal Palace.

The Saints rescued a 2-2 draw away to Brighton & Hove Albion last time out, while Patrick Vieira’s side played out a goalless stalemate at home to Leeds United.

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.

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira on April 4, 2022© Reuters

The menace that was Wilfried Zaha and his Crystal Palace side just could not find their way through a determined Leeds United defence on Monday night, and Jesse Marsch certainly left as the happier of the two managers following that goalless draw in the capital.

Patrick Vieira has now overseen a run of three defeats and a draw in all competitions for this topsy-turvy Palace outfit, who are also yet to assure themselves of a place in the division next season but should possess the firepower needed to get over the line successfully.

Taking just one point from the last nine on offer in the top flight sees Palace sit one place and two points worse off than Southampton in 14th with a game in hand, and attempting to consolidate a mid-table position is the only objective left on Vieira’s 2021-22 agenda now.

The Eagles have proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with at Selhurst Park in recent weeks, but Vieira’s side have only won three league games away from home all season – only the hapless trio of Norwich City, Burnley and Everton have fared worse in that regard.

Southampton and Palace played out an end-to-end 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park just before Christmas, and the Eagles are still waiting for their first Premier League clean sheet away from home against the hosts, who will still be wary of a Vieira frontline with a point to prove.

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