After a week off thanks to the international break, Crystal Palace begin this weekend’s Premier League as they welcome Liverpool to Selhurst Park for a 12:30 kick off on Saturday.
Before the international break began, Palace managed to put an end to a run which saw them lose four consecutive games with a win over Huddersfield, which manager Roy Hodgson described as:
“Very important because it broke that losing spell, even though we weren’t playing that badly in that spell it was nice to win.
“It was almost like a reward for those loyal fans that follow us home and away because the games against Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United are the ones which excite people.”
However, despite climbing out of the relegation zone up to 16th (just a point behind Swansea City and Huddersfield) some things are still haunting Hodgson’s side as the Palace boss said:
“Had it not been for the enormous injury crisis we may have found ourselves a little bit higher up and unfortunately I still think our squad is very thin on the ground because there are still seven players unavailable to me.”
Recent weeks have seen the return of long term absentees like Mamadou Sakho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek but some players Hodgson will still be waiting on include Jeffrey Schlupp, James Tomkins and Alexander Sorloth.
The injury crisis at Palace has also struck players like Connor Wickham and Wilfried Zaha multiple times, as both have suffered setbacks when looking to get back into the side. On the pair, Hodgson said:
“Wickham played and scored in the under 23’s on Tuesday but unfortunately picked up a minor groin strain. I’m hoping it won’t be that bad and we should see him before the end of the season.
“Zaha hasn’t been doing much training because we’re nursing the knee problem he picked up against Huddersfield. We’ve had to be very cautious with him and we’re grateful to the Ivory Coast for understanding that and not forcing him into friendly action.”
With or without Zaha, this weekend will see the Eagles face one of the hardest challenges at this moment in time in trying to keep Mohamed Salah quiet, but Hodgson hopes he has the know-how of how to do so:
“The only way you can stop a quality player like him is with a collective work your team is able to do. It’s preventing him from getting the service he needs to work his magic in and around the penalty area, being aware of all of his qualities and the type of player he his and hoping that when the odd chance comes his way that he doesn’t take it.”
So far this season, the Egyptian has notched 37 goals in 43 games in all competitions for club and country which has seen him compared to the likes of Lionel Messi. Not just because of the sheer amount of goals scored but also the similarities between the two’s playing styles and even though some may play it down, Hodgson welcomes the comparisons:
“He’s certainly showing that he’s one of the best this season and at the moment he totally deserves to be put in the bracket amongst the top players in the world.”
As well as stopping Salah, in order to get something from the game Crystal Palace will need to attack Liverpool, which is something they’ve had no trouble doing in the past.
In the last six meetings between the sides, Palace have bagged ten goals and been on the winning side three times. With such an even playing field going into the game, it’s expected that Hodgson and his side will aim to make it four wins from seven, especially after he said this:
“Each and every point of these last 21 available has to be hard fought and something that we give our last drops of sweat and blood we can bring to the games because who knows what point will be the one to keep us up.”