Survival comes first for Hodgson

Boss Roy Hodgson is adamant that the main priority for Crystal Palace this season remains securing their Premier League status, despite their progress in the FA Cup.

The Eagles booked a place in the last eight of the cup with a 2-0 victory at League One Doncaster Rovers, with Jeffrey Schlupp and Max Meyer their goalscorers.

However, despite being three wins away from glory, Hodgson is still focused on avoiding relegation, with Palace currently three points clear of the drop zone, having won only one of their last five league games.

He told reporters: "We are happy to be in the draw and we would like to do well in the cup, but we would like even more to stay in the Premier League.

"That's always the priority, as seen by today when we were able to rest one or two players.

"Sooner or later (in the cup) you will meet Manchester City or either Manchester United or Chelsea, so it's a question of when that happens, because then you will have a really tough tie. The important thing is to take each game as it comes."

Palace have reached the FA Cup final on two occasions, losing out to Manchester United in both 1990 and 2016.

The Eagles are currently priced at 16/1 to be relegated this season, while they are 1/40 to beat the drop and 9/1 to lift the FA Cup for their first time in their history.

Palace are back in top-flight action on Saturday, when they head to the King Power Stadium to take on Leicester City.

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Survival come first for Hodgson

Boss Roy Hodgson is adamant that the main priority for Crystal Palace this season remains securing their Premier League status, despite their progress in the FA Cup.

The Eagles booked a place in the last eight of the cup with a 2-0 victory at League One Doncaster Rovers, with Jeffrey Schlupp and Max Meyer their goalscorers.

However, despite being three wins away from glory, Hodgson is still focused on avoiding relegation, with Palace currently three points clear of the drop zone, having won only one of their last five league games.

He told reporters: "We are happy to be in the draw and we would like to do well in the cup, but we would like even more to stay in the Premier League.

"That's always the priority, as seen by today when we were able to rest one or two players.

"Sooner or later (in the cup) you will meet Manchester City or either Manchester United or Chelsea, so it's a question of when that happens, because then you will have a really tough tie. The important thing is to take each game as it comes."

Palace have reached the FA Cup final on two occasions, losing out to Manchester United in both 1990 and 2016.

The Eagles are currently priced at 16/1 to be relegated this season, while they are 1/40 to beat the drop and 9/1 to lift the FA Cup for their first time in their history.

Palace are back in top-flight action on Saturday, when they head to the King Power Stadium to take on Leicester City.

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Zaha to miss Doncaster clash

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson is expecting a big challenge on Sunday after learning that Wilfried Zaha will be suspended for the FA Cup clash at Doncaster Rovers.

Zaha has lost his appeal against the one match suspension he was handed by the Football Association after he was sent off in last month's Premier League game against Southampton.

League One side Doncaster, who are managed by Grant McCann, are on a good run of form and can be backed at 9/4 to win the fifth-round clash at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Hodgson said: "I'm expecting a big challenge. They're doing very well at the moment and we've got a lot of respect for them. We've watched the videos of their team play and been impressed.

"It's not going to be an easy one by any stretch of the imagination and we've seen so many examples of that already. Doncaster are a team that's on the verge of the Championship so we're preparing for a real tough one."

Doncaster are sixth in League One and 9/2 to be promoted this season while Palace can be backed at 10/1 to win the FA Cup.

Hodgson admits that avoiding relegation from the Premier League is his priority but has indicated that he may field a strong side at Doncaster as the fixture schedule at the moment is not too demanding.

The former England manager added: "I can't deny that doing well in the Premier League is absolutely our main goal.

"But the FA Cup is a good competition to be in if you're lucky enough to progress as we have so far. There’s a 'eek between us playing here and the next league game so it comes in a better position if you like in terms of our schedule than the last one did."

Hodgson expects Batshuayi impact

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson is confident that loan striker Michy Batshuayi will prove to be a valuable addition to his goal-shy Eagles squad.

The 25-year-old Belgium international has joined Palace on loan from Chelsea until the end of the season, having struggled at Valencia during the first half of the current campaign.

And Hodgson expects Batshuayi to be a big help to his team, with the frontman having impressed at both Standard Liege and Marseille before joining Chelsea in the summer of 2016.

He told his club's official website: "If you look at his goalscoring record at all of the clubs he's played at from the time that he started, it's been very, very good. He's a proven goalscorer and we've always liked what we've seen.

"I spoke to two or three people that I know and whose judgement I trust about him as a player and as a character. What I got were very, very good references.

"We need a player to guarantee us some goals and, we hope, in Michy we have that person. It will give everyone a boost…to have a player with a good goalscoring record."

Having found opportunities severely limited at Stamford Bridge, Batshuayi was loaned out to Borussia Dortmund almost exactly a year ago and impressed in netting seven goals in ten Bundesliga outings for BVB.

Palace are 15th in the Premier League table ahead of the weekend action, having scored 24 goals in 24 league games played so far this season.

On Saturday the Eagles host Fulham, with Palace having won the meeting of the two sides at Craven Cottage earlier this season by a 2-0 scoreline.

They are 9/1 to win 2-0 again on Saturday and are 13/8 to keep a clean sheet, with Batshuayi 13/8 to score at any time in the game.

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Hodgson aware of Palace priorities

Roy Hodgson would love to take Crystal Palace to an FA Cup semi-final or final, but he readily admits that his priority is staying in the Premier League.

The Eagles welcome Tottenham to Selhurst Park on Sunday for a fourth-round clash and, despite their visitors going through an injury crisis, Hodgson suggests the home team must be focused on league form and not cup runs.

He may not have the sort of squad depth that opposite number Mauricio Pochettino can call upon, but Hodgson is still eyeing up some rotation for this game.

"When you are in our situation, prioritisation is always a factor in your mind," he said. "Our squad is thin on the ground.

The former England boss feels the competition has lost some its appeal down through the years.

"It's nothing like the glittering prize it was in my youth because we have the Champions League and Europa League now. Not many have the ambition to win the FA Cup.

"The FA Cup is still being won by the top teams, and our position in the table [14th] isn't as good as we'd like it to be.

"What is my ambition? To advance in the FA Cup and get to the semis or the final, or stay in the Premier League? My ambition is to stay in the Premier League."

Crystal Palace are 2/1 to beat Spurs, who are 6/4, on Sunday with the draw priced at 12/5.

Despite Tottenham's injures mounting up, they'll have plenty of quality to call on, says Hodgson.

"They have got a lot of players to lose," he added. "They have got a fantastic squad.

"When you bring in people like [Serge] Aurier or [Ben] Davies in, or [Moussa] Sissoko comes in, it is, basically speaking, a riches that the club and Mauricio Pochettino have built up through the years."

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Hodgson dismisses Zaha speculation

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has dismissed talk of Wilfried Zaha leaving the club during the January transfer window.

There has been speculation that Borussia Dortmund are interested in the winger but Hodgson denied there has been contact between the clubs and insisted that Zaha was staying at Selhurst Park for the foreseeable future.

Palace are in FA Cup action this weekend, taking on Tottenham on Sunday and, at a press conference ahead of that game, Hodgson addressed Zaha's future.

He told the media: "There's been absolutely no dialogue whatsoever between Borussia Dortmund and Crystal Palace. Wilf Zaha signed a long-term contract with Crystal Palace – he is very much our player."

Palace are 7/4 to make it through to the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday with Spurs 17/10 while the draw is 12/5.

Hodgson is likely to be more interested in arrivals to Selhurst Park rather than departures before Thursday's transfer deadline but the Palace boss refused to be drawn over whether he had made an enquiry to Everton about striker Cenk Tosun.

"I'm not prepared to talk about any individual players (like Tosun) because we could be here all afternoon if I was supposed to take notice of every player we're supposedly interested in," he added.

Hodgson did admit however that he was short of attacking options with Christian Benteke and Connor Wickham both returning after long-term absences.

One deal that could go through for Palace before they face Spurs on Sunday is a loan move for goalkeeper Lucas Perri from Sao Paulo.

Palace are without keepers Vicente Guaita and Wayne Hennessey while Julian Speroni was at fault for one of the goals in Palace's defeat away at Liverpool last weekend.

Palace, three points clear of the bottom three in the Premier League table, are 16/1 to be relegated at the end of the season while they are 8/1 to finish in the top half.

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Hodgson defends his approach

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson insists he was right to adopt a defensive approach to Sunday's clash against Chelsea at Selhurst Park.

The Eagles failed to create a clear-cut opening in the London derby as Maurizio Sarri's side edged to a 1-0 victory courtesy of N'Golo Kante's second-half strike.

Chelsea also hit the woodwork twice while Olivier Giroud had two goals disallowed.

Palace had won 3-2 at Manchester City earlier this month so it was something of a surprise to see them play so negatively against their fourth-placed opponents.

Hodgson's side are 14th after the defeat and only four points above the relegation zone, with the veteran former England and Liverpool manager saying: "We couldn't be more adventurous unless we wanted to get beaten 4-0 or 5-0.

"It wasn't one of our better days technically so we could have opened ourselves up for 40 minutes and see them exploit the spaces, or we could try and do what we did and keep things tight and the keep the game under some sort of control until 20 minutes from the end and try to take our chances.

"That's what we did but it didn't work as we didn't score. It was the sort of game where we could have played better on the ball, and they were very, very good in terms of their organisation and structure, so it was going to be a tight game if we could keep it tight. That's why we lost the game 1-0 and not by a lot of goals."

Palace are available at 10/3 to beat Wolves at Molineux on Wednesday and 14/1 to win the match from behind.

Selection headache for Hodgson

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has revealed that he has plenty of options to choose from for Sunday's match against Chelsea.

Wayne Hennessey and Martin Kelly missed the goalless draw with Cardiff City on Boxing Day but both players are available for the London derby, which Palace are 19/4 to win.

Hodgson said: "We don't have any injuries to speak of. We're fortunate that those who were injured, Sullay Kaikai, Martin Kelly and Wayne Hennessey, are back in training and available so we have a big squad to choose from.

"Wayne has trained after missing Wednesday's game so I'll have a selection headache because I'll have to choose between him and Vicente [Guaita].

"Christian Benteke is still absent because he's continuing his recovery. He's making good strides but is not available."

Palace won the corresponding fixture last season 2-1 and are 16/1 to repeat that scoreline at Selhurst Park this weekend.

Last term the Eagles had lost their first seven top-flight fixtures of the campaign, with Hodgson adding: "It was very, very important because it was the eighth game and we'd had seven straight losses. Strangely enough, in the three losses that followed the initial four losses when I came into the club, we still felt that we were making some progress.

"We thought we were on the right track and then against Chelsea a little bit of fortune came our way. We're in the Premier League to play the Chelseas of this world and we've got to believe in ourselves."

Premier League: Roy’s Boys are Ready for Chelsea

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea

Selhurst Park is the place to be for the big London derby on Sunday when Maurizio Sarri takes his Champions League-chasing stars to face a resurgent Crystal Palace.

Chelsea fans will head south of the River Thames for this Premier League clash, full of hope after passing a difficult Boxing Day test away to Watford. And they are sure to get a white-hot welcome from the Palace Ultras as Roy Hodgson’s team endeavours to continue its recent upturn in form.

The Blues have already beaten the Eagles this season, by 3-1 at Stamford Bridge back in November, so there’s a little matter of revenge on the hosts’ minds.

Talking Points

Palace need to be more clinical…

Ten points from the last six games lifted the Eagles away from the drop zone, but there is still plenty of work to be done to ensure another season in the top flight for Hodgson’s talented squad. They can play superb attacking football on their day, but they don’t always get the desired result.

Andros Townsend’s wonder-strike against Manchester City is a contender for goal of the season and is sure to feature in the Premier League 2018 highlights package. But Palace couldn’t follow up that incredible victory with a win, or even a solitary goal against relegation fodder Cardiff despite raining 31 shots down on the Welshmen’s goal. It isn’t the first time the Eagles have dominated a game without scoring the goals their approach play deserved.

Leading scorer Luka Milivojevic has five goals, but four have been penalties. Meanwhile, flair players Wilfried Zaha and Townsend have three goals each. Those two, in particular, should aim for a much higher return in the second half of the season.  Hodgson has been quick to say Palace is no longer a selling club as the wealthy vultures begin to circle in the approach of the January transfer window. Zaha and Townsend will have to stay to ensure a happy end to the 2018/19 story.

And Chelsea must rediscover that consistency

Chelsea occupy the fourth Champions League spot at the half-way stage, and that would be a decent measure of success for Maurizio Sarri in his first season in the English top flight. The Premier League 2018 betting odds make the Blues the favourites to win that final big European place, but Sarri needs to ensure his team returns to the level of consistency which saw them go 12 matches unbeaten at the start of the season.

Eden Hazard scored his 101st goal for Chelsea in their recent Premier League clash against Watford

Eden Hazard’s brace beats Watford in their last Premier League fixture

Leicester City were the last team to give Chelsea a bloody nose, stealing a 0-1 win at Stamford Bridge thanks to a Jamie Vardy goal. Not long after that, the Blues had inflicted the first defeat on champions Manchester City. There is a tendency for the Blues to rely on the form of Eden Hazard, and Hodgson has warned his players to be wary of the Belgian’s threat, having watched him score a double to win the points at Watford.

There is always speculation around Hazard’s future when the transfer window opens, and Sarri knows he needs to sort out the future of his talisman. I suspect Chelsea may need to learn to win without Hazard sooner or later.

History

There has only been one draw between these two teams in the 18 Premier league clashes since 1994, with Chelsea winning 13 and Palace the other four. The corresponding fixture last season resulted in a 2-1 win for the Eagles courtesy of a Wilfried Zaha winner, and that epic clash is fresh in the memory for both sets of fans.

This has been a happy hunting ground for Chelsea over the years. During the last nine meetings at Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace have won twice while Chelsea have won seven times, scoring 14 goals to the Eagles’ four.

Hazard’s goals against Watford took his season’s tally to ten, twice as many Palaces’ Milivojevic.

Betting Tip

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Crystal Palace vs Chelsea Over 2.50 goals @ 1.93
December 30, 20:00 (GMT+8)

It’s not surprising that the Blues are favourites to win this game at us odds of 1.74 with the draw at 3.50, and 4.70 for an Eagles win. But if Hodgson’s boys can lift themselves as they did against Manchester City, they have a realistic chance of winning at least a point.

Another shock result and a repeat of last season’s 2-1 Palace win will pay handsomely at 16.50 and that will do very nicely for Roy.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Hodgson not ruling out Etihad shock

Roy Hodgson says Crystal Palace must approach Saturday's trip to face Manchester City with the correct attitude and insists getting a positive result is 'far from impossible'.

The Eagles face a daunting game at the home of the Premier League champions as the hectic festive football programme clicks into gear this weekend.

Hodgson dismisses any notion that his team would be treating the game as a 'free hit', despite Crystal Palace being 20/1 to win.

"I don't make much of it [free hit]; it's one of the 38 games we know we've got to play and one of the tougher ones playing against such a good team," he said.

"When you analyse what they're capable of and what they've been doing, trying to come up with the right answers [to playing Manchester City] is anything other than a free hit."

Manchester City are 13/2 to win the game 3-0, while Palace can be backed at 9/1 to earn a point.

The fixture last year ended 5-0 to the home side, but Hodgson suggests Palace have shown they can match City on their day, albeit at Selhurst Park.

"This is another an opportunity for us to go and show we are a good Premier League team and a chance to get points, it won't be easy but it's far from impossible," he added.

"When they came here around this time we actually managed a 0-0 draw and even gave them the free hit of missing a penalty in the last minute which was extremely generous of us."

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