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First Team

Hodgson: First Half Cost Us Dear

28 December 2017

Roy Hodgson praised his Palace players despite their 3-2 defeat to Arsenal, although felt that a slow opening 45 minutes cost them as their impressive recent form came to a halt.

The Eagles boss saw his team go into the break a goal down thanks to Shkodran Mustafi’s opener, but Andros Townsend found a quick-fire response after the break to level things up before Alexis Sanchez grabbed two goals in the space of four minutes to put the Gunners in the driving seat.

Despite the Eagles giving it a good go in the final stages and pulling one back through James Tomkins, they saw their eight-game unbeaten run come to an end and Hodgson, speaking in his post-match press conference, gave his verdict on the game, saying: “In the first half Arsenal certainly deserved to go in 1-0 up because they asked a lot of questions of us and our attacking play wasn’t as sharp as we would have liked it to have been.

“We didn’t pressure them as well as they were pressurising us. That’s a recipe for disaster when you’re playing teams of Arsenal’s quality. In the second half I felt we remedied that and we did very well, and when we equalised we were on the front foot and looking good value, but then we conceded two goals and the second was a body blow for us.

“After that the players showed great resilience to not capitulate and take the game to Arsenal, risking the counter-attack, and in doing so we created chances and the second goal was probably a reward for our effort, but it came late and we didn’t have any chances to get the third. If the goal had come earlier we might have been able to do it.”

Hodgson was also asked about the impact of Wilfried Zaha in the second half, who came out fired up after feeling aggrieved with some of the calls made by Michael Oliver, but Hodgson didn’t have any issue with the referee, adding: “I think Wilf felt hard done by in the first half because he was bundled over once or twice. It’s difficult as a manager to make sensible judgements on whether the referee got it right or whether we had a case, but we’re talking about one of the best referees in the country.

“I wasn’t creating as much fuss of those situations as Wilf, but then again I wasn’t the one being bundled over, but he did well to calm himself down and in the second half any injustices he might have felt he channelled into his performance and he caused them a lot of problems. A lot of the chances and half chances we created in the second half had him at the centre of them.”

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