Roy Hodgson has warned that Aston Villa will be fighting for their lives against Crystal Palace, regarding their game with the Eagles as a crucial possible step towards Premier League safety.
The Palace manager explained that, while he cannot comment precisely on how his opponents will perform, he expects Sunday's hosts to provide a tough test for his squad.
"In their table position," he said, "I think most teams will be looking to come out fighting and take that last chance to try and stay in the division. One thing is for certain: everybody knows how important it is to try and stay in this division. That’s something all teams would do.
"Maybe half the league don’t even contemplate it but there’s another half of teams in the league that probably do contemplate what’s going to happen if we don’t play well and what’s going to happen if we can’t stay out of the relegation zone. I’m pretty certain that those teams that are fighting down the bottom are going to continue fighting until it becomes mathematically impossible for them to remain in the league.
"As they said several times on the television yesterday evening in the Man United game, people probably expect Aston Villa to take the game against us as a golden opportunity to get a win behind them and to get closer to the teams just above them."
Then turning his attention to a former Villan, Hodgson commented on Christian Benteke, who netted for the Eagles midweek against Chelsea.
The Palace manager was asked about the goal being "a No.9's goal", and said:
"He was bought as a No.9, he regards himself as a No.9 and we regard him as a No.9. I don’t think there has been any reason to contest his desire to get into those positions, or his desire to score goals and it’s good to see him getting on the scoresheet.
"Hopefully that will encourage him to keep doing those things and hopefully the ball will be kind for him when it falls into his area."
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