First Palace goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mamadou Sakho sealed a huge comeback win for the Eagles, who had to recover from Xherdan Shaqiri’s opener just after half-time, but Hodgson was happy with the spirit his team showed to turn the game on its head.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, the Palace manager talked about a number of topics, including:
Thoughts on the game: “It was a strange game as I felt that both teams were in control defensively and goal chances were very hard to come by, and neither goalkeeper made a save of any particular note in the game. Both back fours did well at dealing with crosses, but I felt we got our reward for our goals – they were good goals especially the final one as we worked the space in the right area, got the right cross into the box and got the bodies in there that we needed.”
Coming from behind: “We couldn’t dominate the central midfield today against Fletcher and Allen but we did keep going and that was the most important thing. Even when it looked bleak we didn’t give up, and sometimes if you can have that fighting spirit it can take you far, and it’s a quality that I think that the club shares with the people that came here to watch us play. They don’t give up and throw the towel in, and keep spurring the players on.
“It was nice to see that all the fans stuck with us right until the end, and they were able to be as jubilant as we were on the touchline when we got the goal, which is the first real slice of luck we’ve had because I’m pretty certain at that stage that Stoke had thought they’d done enough to draw the game.”
Christian Benteke: “His participation helped us as he gave us a focal point in attack. The two wide forwards that we’ve been playing together have been doing a fantastic job but they were finding it hard against the big back five that Stoke were playing with, and we kept the ball up front better when Christian came on.
“We’ve seen good games and important moments with Wilfried and Andros playing in those two old-fashioned inside right and left positions, but now we’ve got Christian back and Bakary Sako is working very hard in training to compete.”
Team selection: “We’ve got options. Up until two or three weeks ago our options were limited, but James Tomkins has been doing extremely well for a period of time now, and although Scott Dann hasn’t done badly at all, they are different types of players. I thought we’d have quite a lot of the ball today in the back area and I think James was very good for us there.
“The goalkeeper has one massive advantage over Julian and that’s his height, and against teams like Stoke it’s important to have a keeper who can threaten with his height like they do with theirs. Both Julian and Scott might feel a little disappointed to lose their place because they haven’t lost it by giving bad performances, but they’ve been unlucky not to be on the winning side and I need to try and shake a few things up to get a winning team, by hook or by crook.”
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: “It wasn’t just his goal today, it was his all-round performance. All he needs is games, experience and the knowledge that he can do it week after week. I’m sure that with every good performance and every pat on the back he gets, he’ll get stronger.”
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