CRYSTAL PALACE celebrated their best home run for more than four years – thanks to Mr Invincible Arsene Wenger.
Odsonne Edouard’s first-half tap-in means the Eagles have now won three matches in a row at Selhurst Park for the first time since the spring of 2018.
And the French forward was boosted by a chat, a quiz and some table football with retired Arsenal boss Wenger at the French Embassy in London.
Palace boss Patrick Vieira – himself an acolyte of Wenger at the Gunners – took along a few of his fellow compatriots to the prestigious function last Tuesday.
Michael Olise also came away from that meeting in a positive frame of mind following a privileged chinwag with Wenger.
And while the French under-21 star has yet to score since February, he produced a key display as Palace moved into tenth place in the Premier League.
Ahead of his 50th Prem clash in charge, Vieira had been deeply unhappy with the performance of his players during the 3-0 defeat at Everton the previous weekend.
That result was the heaviest loss under him since Boxing Day 2021 but he did not ring the changes, dropping only Jordan Ayew for Jeffrey Schlupp in the starting line-up.
Southampton adopted an adventurous 3-5-2 formation with Mohamed Elyounoussi and Romain Perraud as wing-backs and gave Che Adams a run-out ahead of the omitted Adam Armstrong.
After a rendition of the Last Post was ruined by noisy Saints fans, the early exchanges were a bitty affair, plenty of set-pieces and corners but little end product.
On 15 minutes, Palace came close to scoring a superb team goal as Eberechi Eze ingeniously flicked it out wide for the sprinting Wilfried Zaha.
The Ivorian went close with the left-footed cross-turned-shot, which Edouard also nearly diverted in himself on the stretch.
Throughout this encounter, there was an intriguing running battle between Zaha and Lyanco, who had been described as a “nasty one” by boss Ralph Hasenhuttl.
The first time the Brazilian went through the back of the Palace playmaker, he conceded a foul.
The next time he did the same thing he was cautioned – though Zaha also saw a yellow card, presumably for his reaction.
Zaha, who is constantly fouled and targeted by the opposition, got his own back on 38 minutes as he dispossessed the sloppy Saints defender and then started the quick counter that led to the winner.
Tyrick Mitchell received the short pass and from his cross Edouard – who five minutes earlier had a goal ruled out for offside – neatly applied the finish.
It was the least the home side deserved by that point, especially as Eze had also drawn a fine save from Southampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.
Southampton were a different side in the second half and improved significantly – they had a glut of chances to level up and should have done so.
Elyounoussi certainly felt he had been denied a penalty when the ball deflected on to the arm of Marc Guehi from his attempt.
Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita was magnificent and he made two decent saves within the space of a minute that were vitally important.
The first was from Adams, whose first touch had let him down, and then a near-post block to deny Stuart Armstrong.
Midfielder Armstrong did eventually beat Guaita on 60 minutes but agonisingly for him the powerful strike rebounded off the post.
And then Adams should have done better when he was fed-in by Joe Aribo but his effort following ANOTHER below-par first touch was stopped by Spaniard Guaita.
Hasenhuttl last night walked away from his 150th Premier League match believing he should have had at least a point against the Palace French Connection.
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