The elephant in the room is addressed immediately and by Roy Hodgson himself, who is all too aware of the alarming statistics about Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha.
This is probably because the palace manager was asked about it so many times. But in case you didn’t know, the Eagles have now lost 18 of their last 20 Premier League games that Zaha didn’t play in, and equally worrying is that they haven’t scored 16 of those 18 defeats.
All of this makes the absence of the forward with a hamstring injury – confirmed by Hodgson – for the Monday Night Football clash against rivals Brighton so crucial for a Palace side looking to bounce back after successive losses to Leeds United and Burnley.
Hodgson sees it differently, however, and believes that the Ivory Coast striker’s unavailability at Amex on Monday night is actually an opportunity for his players to finally show that they are not a one-man team.
“It will be too early, it was a pretty bad muscle injury that he sustained. So we have to go into the game again with the sword of Damocles over us because if we don’t win it will be.” because Wilf is not there, “he told Sky Sports.
Once again we have to go into the game with the sword of Damocles hanging over us, because if we don’t win it, it’s because Wilf is not there
“He was so incredibly influential during my time at the club, he did a fantastic job for us, he contributed and helped us every year to get us to where we were, outside the relegation zone, and look forward to it . ” another Premiership year.
“But the fact is, we have to find a way to make sure that if he doesn’t play it doesn’t. We can’t win because these other players have a lot of talent and skill and we can’t deny the fact or. ” criticize someone for making the fact known or asking me what about it? I am not complaining about it.
“But certainly, I know, the players will be a little disappointed when they think it’s as simple as Wilf plays, we win, Wilf doesn’t play, we don’t, because they know injuries happen and you have to learn , deal with it.” it.
“But we’re not alone when the clubs are missing their best player. When Harry Kane hasn’t played for Tottenham, it has been more difficult for them to get results.”
“But it’s a fact to deal with, and if we’re going to get that monkey off our back, we’d better start winning games when Wilf isn’t around.”
No wilf, no victory
Crystal Palace have lost 18 of their last 20 Premier League games that Wilfried Zaha did not play, with the Eagles failing to score in 16 of those 18 defeats
The 28-year-old Zaha has scored nine goals and provided two assists in his 19 top games this season. Impressive attack numbers that will always be difficult to replace.
However, it is at the other end of the field where Palace’s defensive line has been unusually porous, scoring the third most league goals this season.
Last time, Hodgson watched in disbelief as his side sent three at home, including two in the first ten minutes, to a Burnley team that had fought hard for goals on the road earlier this season.
“It’s a combination of factors,” said Hodgson as he tried to deal with Palace’s recent defensive problems.
“Our defense this year, at least in the last part, was okay at the beginning, we conceded too many goals and therefore have a very small goal difference.
“You attributed it to the fact that in certain situations we didn’t defend very well, that you missed a lot of players and that you have to hack and change and not get the stability that we had in the background for a number of years can one Role-play. “
However, one thing Palace no longer needs to do is allow early goals, which Hodgson said, then force them to watch matches.
“We went down in the games early on and as a result you are chasing the game to be back,” he said. “And the Premier League is full of teams who, when they are ahead of the game, know how to protect a lead and ask you lots of questions as you counterattack.
“There are so many factors to consider – it would be a lot easier if you could just put your finger on it and trace it back to an obvious thing going on in the game.
“Why do we make the mistakes early? I don’t know, but it will change.”
Who better to come back against Brighton than Brighton when Palace couldn’t have found a worse time to take on their rivals, who are currently having their best undefeated top run since November 1981.
However, Hodgson is well aware of the challenge his team will face on Monday night on the south coast against opponents who are so skilled both with and without the ball.
“He [Graham Potter] did an excellent job there, the whole club has been very good since battling relegation and securing his place last year, “said Hodgson.
“They have started this year very, very well, even if they don’t necessarily have the points to show for it. They performed better than some of the results they had for those performances.”
“We have a lot of respect for them, we know that they are a very good team, they are well balanced and defensive, they do not concede too many goals, they work very hard and are a young and energetic team.
“But they are also very good technically, as you can see from their ability to hold the ball. They are a possession-based team. They want to make sure they hold the ball just like Man City, which is why I am.” not surprisingly, Pep (Guardiola) singled out Graham as much as he did.
“Unfortunately the problem they cause you when they have the ball is that they are not easy to get back because they are technically gifted. They send players forward in attack, they keep buzzing around looking for spaces and the gaps that you may have go and punish yourself for leaving these gaps.
“But unfortunately they are just as good when they don’t have the ball, they don’t give you any chances, they defend very well and they make it difficult for you to score.”
Did you know?
Roy Hodgson was only the tenth manager to take over 350 Premier League games in Palace’s 2-0 defeat in Leeds
Palace are going to Amex in the relegation zone via Fulham with a healthy 10-point cushion when we start their final 14 games of the season, which means another Premier League campaign is all but certain.
Whether Hodgson – the oldest player to ever win in the Premier League and recently just the 10th coach to oversee 350 games in the competition – will be in charge at Selhurst Park next season is not yet known.
The former England coach, 73, signed a new 12-month deal in March last year but is only focusing on Palace’s highlight of the season for now, which kicks off in Brighton on Monday.
Monday, February 22nd, 7:00 p.m.
Start at 8:00 p.m.
“It’s not a week to week thing,” said Hodgson. “As for me, what I said last week and probably the week before, and went back a month or two ago, I’m more than happy right now just to move on. I’m not sure what the future will be either for me or for the club and I’m not sure what would be best for me at the end of the season.
“I look forward to working with this team until the end of the season to make sure we get the best table position we can get.”
“And when that is achieved it will be time to make a decision, but I don’t know why I should feel obliged to make a decision now about what to do with the rest of my life. I think , I will do it.” Put that forward to the day when a decision absolutely needs to be made. “