In this first weekend of January the Premier League fixture programme takes a natural break as the FA Cup competition is centre stage and Roy Hodgson prepares his side for a third round meeting with Brighton & Hove Albion.
There is a spirit and believe within the squad following only one defeat in ten games which they can take into the cup tie but they are two characteristics which are not new to the group according to Hodgson, who is pleased that they were proved right to have the believe in their own ability.
“Strangely it wasn’t that bad even when I came in so it’s not been the type of turnaround in spirit that people may have expected it to have been looking from the outside, even in the beginning I didn’t see a feeling of depression over the place. I think people had a belief and hope that our fortunes would turn around but it has been very nice over these eleven or so games to see that hope was justified and the players have got their reward for the hard work they have put in and the pleasing thing is they have continued to show it.”
The form in the league is one that needs to continue in the remaining games of the season so the boss is keen not to put any players at risk in the cup tie, a similar opinion of managers at other clubs with the priority needing to be the week to week top flight programme but Hodgson will still have one eye on progress in the cup when the game gets underway on Monday.
“It’s an important competition, many of us have been brought up over the years with memories of big FA Cup occasions and in time gone by players wouldn’t have been rested for an cup game but nowadays of course the Premier League is so important that nobody wants to be relegated, so we do see clubs with big squads use some of those who may not have had the opportunity to play but it is a balancing act for those of us who have the worry about our league position. But even so for me though the tie at Brighton is a match that would be nice to win and see us continue in the competition.”
Watch the full pre-match press conference ahead of the 3rd round tie. or if viewing on the App go to the Palace TV channel to see Roy talking to the broadcast media.