After seeing Luka Milivojevic convert twice from the penalty spot to help his team gain a point against Arsenal, Roy Hodgson praised his captain’s bottle following last weekend’s disappointment against Everton.
The Eagles boss delivered his half-time team talk with his team ahead following Milivojevic’s first conversion in stoppage-time, but quickly saw his team fall behind thanks to a Granit Xhaka free-kick and a controversial goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang that was assisted via a handball by Alexandre Lacazette.
However, Wilfried Zaha won a second penalty eight minutes from time, allowing the Eagles skipper to smash home his second spot-kick of the afternoon and grab his team a point, which Hodgson feels was the least his team deserved from their afternoon’s work.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, he spoke about a number of topics, including:
Luka Milivojevic: “You have to give credit to him. To step up once again having missed the decisive penalty which cost us points at Everton, and then do it again at two very important situations just before half-time to give us the lead and then to rescue a point, that’s great credit to Luka Milivojevic.
“It’s not just a question of technique in those situations, it’s a question of mental strength. I’ve been involved in teams in penalty shootouts and there are lots of theories about how they should be taken, but you need players with the mental strength to step up and score the goal. If it was a question of merely technique, every player on the pitch has the ability to do that.”
The penalties: “There were two good pieces of play which led to Arsenal being forced to commit the foul in the penalty area, and apart from that they were very disciplined. For the amount of possession we had in the final part of the field and the amount of penalty area entries we had, I think the two goals were a fairly scant reward.”
Arsenal’s second goal: “Our players were complaining bitterly about there being a handball involved, and I can’t obviously say from my position on the bench that I saw it. I’ve seen it now and I feel most people who will watch it on the TV will feel sympathy for us because it wasn’t exactly a touch of the hand, it actually helped the ball go towards the player that scored the goal. I think that was very unfortunate for us.”
Resilience: “It was tremendous the way the players came back from that. It’s not easy when you play as well as we did in the first half and come in leading but see that wiped out in the space of five minutes, and then there was the second goal which you’re entitled to feel a sense of unjust over.
“To come back in the way that we did, equalise and come away from the game with a point, the players have got to be very satisfied for that. They deserve a lot of praise and congratulations for that performance.”
Comparing the two teams: “I thought that we were playing today against a team packed full of quality, and that’s not surprising seeing as they’ve won 11 on the bounce. To have kept all of their players of note as quiet as we did was good, and the one we didn’t keep quiet was Xhaka with his bullet of a free-kick.
“If we take the players playing up front, our front players were much more noticeable today then the Arsenal ones, and that’s great credit to the quality of the defenders that I have at Crystal Palace.”
Substitutions: “Last week were unlucky in that Max Meyer and Alex were both sick, so when you have players of that quality on your bench, you always look towards them when things aren’t going your way and see if they can come on and change things around. Luckily for me, they both did.”
Difficult weekend putting things into perspective: “I was really disappointed to hear about Glenn [Hoddle] who is someone I know, and that he suffered a serious problem and had been taken to hospital and treated there, and that was really bad news which affected me, but that was exasperated later on with the news from Leicester. It tends to put all the glitter and glamour of football to one side, and nothing can compare to matters of life and death.
“Football is a village, and we know everyone very well in that village and they almost become family to us, so when something like this happens you get the feeling that you have been affected by it. All I can do is wish Glenn a speedy and full recovery, and extend my sympathies to Leicester City Football Club and Vichai [Srivaddhanaprabha]’s family and hope that they can deal with their grief.”