Facing their fourth top six side in five games last weekend against Liverpool, Crystal Palace weren’t able to stop Mo Salah.
However, despite the loss the south Londoners made a good account of themselves and that’s something Roy Hodgson hopes his side can take into their final stretch of games this season. he said:
“We’re responding well. We’ve had a difficult run where we’ve acquitted ourselves well and been unlucky not to take many points. I can’t criticise in any way shape or form our performances, attitude or determination.”
Those performances against the top sides will have to be matched, or even topped this weekend as the club’s injury woes continue to haunt them. Following training today, Hodgson confirmed:
“Christian Benteke limped off the training field feeling his groin, so we won’t know how he is until tomorrow. So, the squad that is already very thin on the ground has become possibly even thinner.
“We don’t have many forwards, even with Benteke fit we’ve only got three in the club so whatever happens we don’t have players in that area in the field.”
After last weekend, Saturday’s game against Bournemouth could’ve been the perfect time for the striker to redeem himself to the Palace faithful after he missed two great chances against Liverpool. However, even though those missed efforts turned out to be costly, Hodgson is still pleased with the Belgian’s work:
“We’ve been content with the way he’s been going about his work in training, in matches he’s been working very hard. But when it comes to forwards and goalkeepers, their performances over 96 minutes is often decided in seconds.
“We try to look beyond that and encourage him to keep working as hard as he has been and then hope he can do what he’s done in the past and convert chances.” He said.
Benteke’s missed chances last week preceded Salah’s late winner at Selhurst Park which Hodgson will not have wanted to dwell on. On conceding that late goal, the Palace boss said:
“That type of disappointment has to blow over quickly and you can’t allow it to stay with you for long periods of time. By the time you’re back on Monday you have to start thinking utterly on the next game.”
This is something that may have been especially important this week going into a game against a Bournemouth side who have taken the most amount of points from losing positions in the Premier League this season (17).
Also, that stat isn’t just something that has been built on early this season and not added to, as last weekend saw Bournemouth recover a point at Watford thanks to a 92nd minute goal from notorious goalscorer Jermain Defoe. So Palace will need to ensure they stay switched on for the whole game to come away with anything.
With the pressure beginning to mount upon everyone at the bottom end of the table it could become easy for Crystal Palace to rely on the results of surrounding teams but that’s not the way Hodgson would like things to go. He said:
“I don’t assess what teams around us are doing because I have no effect on what happens with them.”
That’s something that could help his side against Bournemouth as Palace have kept two clean sheets in their last to visits to the Vitality Stadium. Out of those two games, they also won the most recent meeting at Bournemouth so even if Benteke doesn’t make an appearance, they’ll be hoping history can repeat itself to push them further up the table.