Roy Hodgson admitted that he was forced into his gameplan to keep things tight right until the end against Chelsea due to the Blues’ dominance in possession during their 1-0 win at Selhurst Park.
The Eagles boss saw his side fall to defeat thanks to N’Golo Kante’s second half strike, but having escaped from their woodwork being rattled twice and Olivier Giroud having two goals chalked off, Palace remained in contention to get a point against the odds right until the death when late chances for Wilfried Zaha and Connor Wickham went begging.
Hodgson believed that having seen his side struggle to gain possession and create chances when they did, his plan to stay in the contest and spring a late surprise was the better option than a gung-ho approach.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, the Palace boss said: “We couldn’t be more adventurous unless we wanted to get beaten 4-0 or 5-0. It wasn’t one of our better days technically so we could have opened ourselves up for 40 minutes and see them exploit the spaces, or we could try and do what we did and keep things tight and the keep the game under some sort of control until 20 minutes from the end and try to take our chances.
“That’s what we did but it didn’t work as we didn’t score. It was the sort of game where we could have played better on the ball, and they were very, very good in terms of their organisation and structure, so it was going to be a tight game if we could keep it tight. That’s why we lost the game 1-0 and not by a lot of goals.”
Despite the defeat, Hodgson was impressed with his side’s defensive display that held Chelsea at bay for long periods of the contest, but admitted that Maurizio Sarri’s team’s quality on the ball mean that chances were always going to be at a premium for the Eagles.
Reflecting further on the game, he added: “They were very good, but in the first half our discipline was very focussed and we limited their goalscoring chances, and apart from their offside goal I thought we did quite well.
“After they scored the goal we missed two opportunities but we couldn’t get hold of the ball enough as they kept it too well and we weren’t able to get it from them.”