The third round of the English League Cup sees Claude Puel’s Southampton Host Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace at the St. Mary’s Stadium tonight in an all-Premier League game. Southampton started life under their new manner Claude Puel in a slow manner but they picked up their game over the last week. First a 3-0 win against Sparta Prague in the Europa League after a solid showing in the midweek and then a 1-0 win against Swansea in the Premier League, Puel will be looking to make it three in a row as they take on the Eagles tonight.
Crystal Palace are on a solid momentum heading into the game being unbeaten in their last four games in all competitions. The South London side thrashed Stoke City 4-1 last Sunday and will be keen to continue their winning streak by brushing the South Coast club aside.
Here are three questions that will be asked when the two Premier League sides collide tonight.
Is Pardew confident enough to start his squad players?
League Cup is an opportunity to give your squad players time on the pitch and keep them in shape. The key players get some deserved rest in the process and the squad players also get the chance to show their true colours. However, Alan Pardew will be in a big dilemma whether to go for wholesale changes to his starting XI or start his best possible XI to gain further momentum. We have to wait and see if Pardew opts for playing players like Sako, Mutch, Wickham or sticks with the likes of Benteke, Townsend or Zaha who have been impressive lately for the Eagles.
Will Claude Puel tweak his tactics?
Since taking charge of the Saints this summer, Claude Puel has consistently used a 4-4-2 diamond formation. The Frenchman used the same tactics at Nice last season and helped the side finish in top four against all odds. The League Cup will be a nice opportunity for the French manager to try other formations especially considering his key players are desperately needing rest. Puel could use young players like Isgrove and Reed tonight and we could see the Saints lining up in a different way.
Will Shane Long finally open his account?
Long was one of the best performers for Southampton in the closing stages of the last season and was expected to be the main man this season after the departure of Pelle. However, the Irish international has been struggling under Puel so far this season. The 29-year-old is yet to open his account this season after six games in all competitions. We expect Long to start against Crystal Palace as Puel will hope that the agile striker finally finds his scoring boots. Will he be able to do that? We have to wait and watch.