Roy Hodgson was thrilled with the efforts of his team from top to bottom as his Palace side beat Fulham 2-0 to record an opening day victory at Craven Cottage.
Goals either side of the break by Jeffrey Schlupp and Wilfried Zaha ensured there would be no seven-game wait for a goal or point this time around, and Hodgson heaped praise on Zaha as well as Wayne Hennessey and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on his return to the club he once guided to a Europa League final.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, the Palace boss spoke about a number of topics, including:
The game: “We didn’t start well, but that was largely down to Fulham starting with an enormous tempo. They didn’t just move the ball quickly; they were very sharp and quick into tackles, and made it very difficult to play the ball through midfield as we would have liked.
“I thought we got better at dealing with it, and scoring a goal helps in that respect because then they’re the team on the back foot. In the second half we did much better, but I would think Slavisa Jokanovic wouldn’t be unhappy with the way his team played. We certainly needed to pull out all of the stops and score two very good goals, and have a goalkeeper in good form to get us the three points today.”
Wayne Hennessey: “I am very happy with him. He has started the season exceptionally well and helped us go the last six games of last season unbeaten, and he played very well in that period of time. Even though both goalkeepers have done well in pre-season and Guaita has been impressive too, I had no reason to take the shirt from Wayne, and obviously today it seemed like that decision was justified.”
Wilfried Zaha: “Many teams have got a player of that type who is a talisman and the team really depends on. I’m certain that every day Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino have to answers questions about their key players, and we are lucky that we have a player like they have who is a game changer and able to win one.
“It is not unusual in a transfer window that there is speculation about him, but there was never any interest from our side in selling Wilfried Zaha. We want him at the club for as many years as we can have him, and he’s obviously happy here because he’s a south London and Crystal Palace player. He knows that we really appreciate what he does for us, and we’ll work hard to put him in as good a condition and position to do what he can.”
Opening day win: “It means a lot. You get asked all these questions about how important it is to get off to a good start, and it is important because everyone wants it. The problem is that in a game of football, only one team can get off to a good start, so all you can do is prepare them to ensure that you are in some sort of position yourself to get off to a good start by winning. Given that dreadful run we had last season after seven games, to already have three points makes us happy.”
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: “I thought he was absolutely excellent, both defensively and offensively. You only hope he’ll go from strength to strength – it is only his eighth game in the Premier League.
“He played on the opening game of the season, in a fantastic atmosphere against a team who has just come up and against Sessegnon who has had a wonderful season and is a bit of a flyer, so to do what he did today he will sleep well. If you’re going to give him a few pats on the back, I am more than happy to add my voice to the praise.”