Palace recovered from Shane Long’s opener after 17 minutes in the second half, with James McArthur equalising with a close-range finish before Luka Milivojevic’s delightful curling shot from 25 yards handed the visitors all the points, and Hodgson was delighted that his side managed to turn in another fine display just over 48 hours after gaining a point against Manchester City.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, he spoke about a number of issues, including:
Difference between halves: “In the first we looked like a team that had a very tough game a couple of days ago and the pitch was a little bit heavy as there has been a lot of rain and the grass was a little bit long, so that didn’t help the ball to fizz across the surface.
I thought the heaviness of the pitch and our legs meant that the first half was nothing like the one we wanted to give, but in the second it was almost exactly it. We were very dominant and by the time we’d equalised we’d had enough of the ball in the Southampton final third, and it was great to get the winner and take three points.”
Short turnaround between games: “We haven’t complained about it and we haven’t really discussed it as a team. We weren’t prepared to lay that excuse on the table, and at half-time there was no mention that we looked a bit weary, it was just a question of what we needed to do to get ourselves going and get over that.
“The programme has been exceptionally unkind to us and I hope it doesn’t happen every year. To get four points from the Arsenal, Man City and Southampton games which were played in five days, that’s not a bad performance by anyone’s standards but it’s not something that you should be expected to do. Two days’ rest should be a minimum and I don’t really understand why it was so important for this game to be played tonight and not tomorrow as it’s not on television.”
Fantastic run of form: “For any team in this league, if you can look back at the past 11 games and have only lost one of them to Arsenal at home, then you have to be satisfied. It’s an incredible achievement for the players to have got ourselves into a group of teams that could possibly be relegated, rather than propping up the whole league when most experts said we’d never recover.
“When you start so low in the league as we’ve done, you’ve got to be even more satisfied. I think I set high standards and demands but these players are happy to meet them.”
Luka bouncing back: “It’s nice for him and I’m sure he was disappointed to miss it [the penalty against Man City]. It would have been nice to have won that game but if we had, we might have lost today so we would have one less point.
“The thing about penalty misses is that everyone automatically assumes you’re going to score and when you don’t people take it badly, but when players miss sitters in front of goal that should be definitely scored, they get a momentary remark and then it’s forgotten about. Wilf missed an open goal against Tottenham but I bet you don’t remember it.”
Zaha penalty debate: “It’s an unfair debate because he’s the most fouled player in the league [in 2017]. He had 114 [fouls on him] which is much more than Aguero, Sane or Sterling, and some of them are going to occur in the penalty area. He does not dive; he actually does his best to stand up. He’ll lose a ball and slip over but get back up again and win it back because he has that kind of guts in him.
“I really hope that referees will judge everything that they see on the field. If they see him fouled in the box they should give it, and if they see him go down under a challenge and they don’t think it’s a penalty, then don’t give it. We don’t want penalties that aren’t because I hate it when teams get ones that shouldn’t such as Niasse against Everton. I didn’t like that at all and I don’t want to do it to other teams.”