Southampton v Crystal Palace preview: Saints targeting Europa League qualification
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 15/05/16 3:56pm
Southampton take on Crystal Palace at St Mary's on Sunday afternoon looking to seal their place in next season's Europa League.
Ronald Koeman's side head into the final game of the season in seventh place in the Premier League, two points behind sixth-in-the-table West Ham United, who travel to mid-table Stoke City.
And the Saints have been boosted by the news that Koeman is set to stay on the South Coast amid reported interest in the Dutchman from Everton.
"What is good is that the club are happy with the work, together with the technical staff and the players, that we have done," he said in his pre-match press conference.
"There is a very good understanding between the manager and the players and that is good because it is important to continue.
"So let's do our job this weekend and there is time enough before I go on holiday to have a talk about the future of the club.
"Everything can happen very fast and that is no problem."
Meanwhile, Palace travel to Southampton eyeing up a possible 12th-placed league finish just six days before the FA Cup final against Manchester United.
Palace boss Alan Pardew, who faces one of his former clubs on Sunday, has admitted though that the showpiece event at Wembley is his priority.
The visitors will be missing Joe Ledley for the trip to Southampton after the Wales midfielder fractured his fibula.
"We're all so desperate for Joe Ledley, he's obviously going to miss the game and the final, and he's got a battle to make the Euros, so that's been a blow," he said.
"Everybody else looks okay, there's still one or two we need to protect in this fixture, but we're hoping we get a good run to the cup final.
"[Ledley's] very much 50-50, it's as tight as that. I'm sure [Wales manager] Chris [Coleman] will be desperate for him.
"We're trying everything we can, we've got oxygen chambers and all sorts to try and help the recovery.
"He was very disappointed when he heard the news but he's a strong character and now he's just determined to make the Euros, so he's got a good mindset."
Koeman has no new injury or suspension worries, with Sadio Mane - who missed Southampton's 2-1 win over Tottenham last weekend due to illness - available.
However, Jordy Clasie remains sidelined with a groin problem.
Pardew is set to rest Wilfried Zaha and goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey - Julian Speroni is expected to deputise and equal the club's record appearances for a goalkeeper - but because of a fractured fibula Ledley will miss out.
Palace's 1-0 win earlier this season was their first in the Premier League against the Saints, having lost eight and drawn four of the previous 12 meetings.
The Eagles have won none of their last 10 Premier League games on the road (D5 L5).
Southampton have won seven and lost just one of their last nine Premier League games at St Mary's (D1).
Palace have won none of their four final day Premier League games away from home (D2 L2). Meanwhile, Saints have lost just one of their final day Premier League games on home soil (W4 D4 L1).
Palace are another team who will probably be resting players with the FA Cup final next weekend. It's pointless not resting players, they only get in a cup final once in a blue moon. Southampton are a decent team finishing the season well and they will want to get in the Europa League.
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0 (7/1 with Sky Bet)
Saints are odds-on (30/100) to sign off with a defeat of Crystal Palace, with the visitors as big as 8/1 for a surprise victory.
Joel Ward grabbed the opener in the reverse fixture back in January and he's 50/1 to repeat the trick, in a market topped by Charlie Austin, Graziano Pelle and Shane Long, who are all priced up at 7/2.