Rakip relishing Hodgson link-up

Erdal Rakip is looking forward to working with the 'legend' Roy Hodgson after joining Crystal Palace on loan from Benfica.

The Sweden Under-21 international midfielder has spent just half a season with the Portuguese outfit having arrived when his contract at Swedish side Malmo expired in the summer.

But Rakip will now remain at Selhurst Park until the end of this current campaign after a loan deal was agreed between the two clubs and Palace will hope he can rediscover the form which saw him score eight goals from 27 league appearances for Malmo last season.

The 21-year-old is looking forward to life in the Premier League and working with Eagles boss, Hodgson, who is a big name in his homeland following his work as Malmo manager in the second half of the 1980s.

"I believe this is a league that suits me and my way of playing," Rakip said on the club's official website.

"It's fast-paced and physically intense, and I'm a classic, balanced number 6; a box-to-box player who runs up and down the field.

"I hope to adapt quickly in order to help the team and show my qualities – I have been training since the season ended and I feel fit and ready to play straight away.

"It will be an honour playing for Roy. He is a legend in Malmo and everyone knows who he is. Crystal Palace is a fantastic club with a lot of history that plays entertaining football, and was the best option for my development and my career at this stage."

Rakip could make his debut for Palace, who sit three points clear of the drop zone and are 10/1 to be relegated this season, in their next Premier League game at West Ham on Tuesday week.

The Eagles are 2/1 to win, while the Hammers are priced at 11/8 and the draw is available at 9/4.

Loftus-Cheek set for long lay-off

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson fears that Ruben Loftus-Cheek could miss the World Cup as the midfielder's ankle injury may need surgery.

The 21-year-old England international, who is on loan at Selhurst Park from Chelsea, has not played since the end of last month.

It was initially thought that Loftus-Cheek had only suffered a minor knock but it now appears that the problem is far more serious.

"The injury is more severe than we originally thought, or perhaps hoped, it would be," said Hodgson.

"I would be very disappointed, surgery or no surgery, if he's not playing before the end of the season. We certainly want him to be and I would presume Chelsea would want him to be.

"The only way he can make himself available for Crystal Palace or England is to be fit and at the moment that isn't the case."

Loftus-Cheek made his England debut against Germany at Wembley in November and he also featured in the next match against Brazil.

However, when asked whether Loftus-Cheek was a doubt for the World Cup, Hodgson replied: "I don't know. I don't want to go into that at the moment because we don't know how long it would take after surgery to get him fit again."

Palace are 12th in the Premier League table and can be backed at 15/4 to draw at Arsenal this weekend and 7/1 to keep a clean sheet against the Gunners.

The Eagles are now 2/1 to finish in the top half of the table this season.

Hodgson wants four signings

Roy Hodgson has said that he wants four new signings to bolster his Crystal Palace squad before the transfer window shuts.

With about two weeks of the January transfer window remaining, Hodgson prepares for the task of securing new signings from a position of strength.

Having arrived at Selhurst Park with the team bottom of the Premier League without a point or even a goal after their first seven games, the former England boss has seen the team revive their fortunes in style.

The Eagles are now 12th in the Premier League table, five points clear of the bottom three and within sight of the top half.

Having won successive league games, against Southampton and Burnley, Palace face Arsenal away on Saturday and Hodgson says that his plans for activity this month were discussed as soon as he arrived at club.

At a press conference ahead of the match against the Gunners, he said: "Our realistic thoughts after I'd been in the club two or three weeks was four, to make the squad as balanced and well-covered as it could be.

"I don't think it's unrealistic to think if we could get more than four players, it would be good for us, if we don't get the four players then our squad is going to be short of numbers apart from anything else."

Hodgson said that injuries to the likes of Jeffrey Schlupp and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have increased the need to bring new players in during this window.

Palace are 19/4 to win at the Emirates on Saturday and increase the pressure on Arsene Wenger whose side are 1/2 with the draw 7/2. 

Palace are 2/1 to end the season in the top half of the table.

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Hodgson still focused on survival

Roy Hodgson insists he and his Crystal Palace players will be delighted to end the Premier League season having managed to avoid relegation to The Championship.

Having started the season with seven consecutive league defeats, the Eagles looked almost certain to drop out of the Premier League in May.

However, the arrival of Hodgson has sparked an amazing turnaround in fortunes, with Palace having lost only once in their last 12 league games – their latest outing seeing them edge a valuable 1-0 win at home to Burnley.

Hodgson, though, is not about to get carried away, despite his side having risen to 12th place in the table and earned a five-point cushion above the drop zone.

He told reporters after a Bakary Sako goal was enough to down the Clarets: "It was a massive three points. At least now we can look at the league table for a week or two without shivers running down our spine.

"We are looking to survive and every three points is three points closer. Everyone at this club, fans, directors, coaches, we will be delighted if at the end of the season we are a point above the relegation zone. We will never waver from that.

"Today the three points was everything and we got them."

Next up for Palace is a short trip to the Emirates Stadium next Saturday to take on capital rivals Arsenal.

The Eagles have only won once at Arsenal in the Premier League era, that a 2-1 success in October 1994, with John Salako scoring both Palace goals.

Hodgson's men are 17/4 to earn a draw against the Gunners, with a 1-1 final scoreline priced at 10/1, while Palace are 25/1 to secure a 1-0 victory.

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Mee confident of Clarets revival

Burnley defender Ben Mee says that he is not concerned by the team's winless run and is looking forward to the second half of the season.

The Clarets have not won in six matches, their latest defeat being at Manchester City in the FA Cup last weekend.

They have lost their two recent home games, against Tottenham and Liverpool but have picked up points away in the league, at Brighton, Manchester United and Huddersfield.

The winless run has not affected their league position, they remain seventh and, with a trip to Crystal Palace to come in the league on Saturday, Mee sees no reason to panic.

He told the club's official website: "It's a big second half of the season for ourselves, to see where we can take the club. It's going to be exciting times.

"We haven't picked up a win, but we've been to Old Trafford and drawn, we've played against a tough Tottenham side who were very good, and we got a good away draw at Huddersfield as well.

"The stats might say no wins in six, but we've got three draws out of that and it's not all doom and gloom.

"We are looking forward. We've got some good games coming up and ones we feel we can win."

Burnley are 3/1 to win on Saturday; Palace, who have enjoyed a revival under Roy Hodgson to climb out of the bottom three are 1/1 with the draw priced at 11/5.

It doesn't get any easier for the Clarets following Saturday's match with both Manchester clubs visiting Turf Moor sandwiched between an away game at Newcastle.

The Clarets are 1/10 to finish the season in the top half of the table.

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Hodgson eyes Loftus-Cheek deal

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has confirmed that he is keen to sign Ruben Loftus-Cheek on a permanent basis from Chelsea.

The 21-year-old midfielder moved to Selhurst Park on a loan agreement in August and has been a regular in Palace's starting line-up this season.

Chelsea signed Ross Barkley from Everton on Friday for £15million which has increased the likelihood of Antonio Conte deciding to sell Loftus-Cheek.

"He's a player we'd like to have at our club, there's no doubt about that," Hodgson said.

"Ruben's a player we like very much. We're very impressed with him, delighted with the way he's developed as a player during the time he's been here. I'm pretty sure that if he's ever available for sale, we would certainly be in there with our hand up as one of the potential buyers.

"It could well be that Chelsea would like to have both Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in their team. I wouldn't mind both in my team, anyway."

Crystal Palace's recent good run means they are now 7/1 to be relegated from the Premier League this season, while the Eagles are 15/8 to win Monday's FA Cup third-round clash against Brighton, with Loftus-Cheek available at 15/4 to score at any time against Chris Hughton's team.

Hodgson confirms double setback

Crystal Palace will be without both Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon for the remainder of their fight to escape the threat of Premier League relegation this season.

Centre-back Dann and winger Puncheon were both injured in the goalless draw with Manchester City and were absent from the 2-1 win at Southampton on Tuesday evening.

And Eagles boss Roy Hodgson has warned that the knee injuries to his two players could be severe enough for them to be doubts for the start of next season.

He told reporters after an important win against the Saints: "They both have cruciate knee ligament injuries. It's very bad news.

"Scott Dann has got a cruciate knee ligament and meniscus injury, to his anterior cruciate, and Jason Puncheon has got a rupture in his posterior cruciate ligament.

"Both will be seeing specialists, both will be having operations, I guess, when the swelling goes down.

"We won't see anything of those players for the rest of our season and it is going to be hard for them to get ready even for the start of next season, because these are serious injuries."

Palace's win on Tuesday evening lifted them two points clear of the drop zone, with the Eagles having only lost one of their last 11 Premier League games.

They opened the campaign with seven straight league defeats, a run of losses which led to Hodgson being drafted in to replace Frank de Boer.

The Eagles are now priced at 1/10 not to be relegated this season, while they are 13/2 to suffer the drop to the Championship, with Southampton available at 6/1.

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Hodgson waits on injury news

Roy Hodgson won't know until Sunday morning who is fit and who is not for Crystal Palace's tussle with Premier League leaders Manchester City.

The Eagles boss says a number of his players have picked up 'knocks' following the 3-2 home defeat at home to Arsenal on Thursday.

Hodgson admits his squad isn't big enough to deal with too many absentees, but he knows that whatever team he puts on the field will give their all.

Manchester City are looking to make it 19 consecutive wins in the Premier League and are 2/7 to beat the home side. Hodgson is hoping his men will present themselves fit and raring to go.

"We have a few knocks. There's no doubt that when I see the players tomorrow there will be several doubtful. Not necessarily serious injuries, but they may be sufficient to keep them out [against] Man City. The squad is not enormous," he said.

"I know our fans will be back on Sunday to support us in the same way. We'll put out the best 11 we can and those players will be doing their level best."

Yohan Cabaye is one of those nursing a knock following the Arsenal clash, while Joel Ward is likely to miss out again with a groin problem.

Palace are 10/1 to beat Man City, with the draw priced at 11/2 for the New Year's Eve clash.

Manchester City have won 14 of their last 15 matches against Crystal Palace in all competitions.

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Hodgson says Zaha going nowhere

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson says that Wilfried Zaha will not be leaving the club during the January transfer window.

The 25-year-old, who signed a five-year deal to stay at Selhurst Park back in May, has been instrumental in the Eagles revival under Hodgson since he was appointed Palace boss.

They lost their first seven league games without scoring a goal but, before Thursday night's defeat to Arsenal had been on an eight-game unbeaten run which had seen them escape the bottom three.

It is however a congested bottom of the table and they could plunge back into the drop zone by the time they play next, at home to league leaders Manchester City on New Year's Eve.

So, they need to keep their best players for the fight ahead and Hodgson is clear that Zaha is staying at Selhurst Park.

He told the club's website: "I've assurances from the owners and chairman Steve Parish, it's not going to happen.

"We are not too concerned about any rumours because he is going nowhere.

"He is doing everything he can to try and keep us out of the relegation zone and he is going to have to keep producing those type of performances for many more games because we have a long fight ahead of us."

Andros Townsend and James Tomkins scored for Palace as they went down 3-2 at home to Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez scoring two in four minutes for Arsene Wenger's side.

In their next game Palace have to try and stop City, 15 points ahead at the top of the table, recording their 19th successive league victory.

They are 10/1 to win and stop City's run, Pep Guardiola's side are 2/7 with the draw priced at 11/2.

Zaha is 10/3 to score at any time in the game while Palace are 7/2 to be relegated at the end of the season.

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Hodgson hails Benteke return

Roy Hodgson is delighted to have Christian Benteke back for Thursday's visit of Arsenal because he adds a 'physical presence' to his side.

The Eagles chief has masterminded a major turnaround in fortunes for the club since taking charge from the sacked Frank de Boer in September with the side bottom of the table on zero points and without a goal at the time.

The Londoners now sit in 16th position and are a point clear of the relegation places following an eight-match unbeaten run.

They will look to extend that run when top-four chasing Arsenal arrive at Selhurst Park this week.

And, after battling to a 1-1 draw at bottom club Swansea on Saturday, Palace will have Benteke back from suspension for the game against the Gunners.

Hodgson hailed his other attacking players for their performances at the Liberty Stadium, but the former England boss will welcome the 27-year-old Belgium international back into the fold with open arms on Thursday.

On Benteke, Hodgson said: "We were without Benteke at Swansea; he was a big loss for us in the way we are trying to play.

"I thought Wilf (Zaha) and Andros (Townsend) did a fantastic job but when they are playing together we don't have a physical presence or that focal point in attack which most teams would like.

"I miss Benteke in good form, that's for sure, and we'll be pleased to welcome him back for these coming games."

Palace, who are 1/6 not to be relegated this season, are 10/3 to defeat Arsenal with Benteke 6/4 to score at any time, while the Gunners are priced at 5/6 and the draw is available at 3/1.