Crystal Palace chief provides context to Premier League upturn


Roy Hodgson does not believe Crystal Palace’s performances have necessarily improved, despite Saturday’s victory over Watford meaning they have won three successive Premier League matches.

The Eagles went on a run of eight games in all competitions without a victory after winning 2-1 against West Ham on Boxing Day. It dragged them back into the relegation battle and saw them knocked out of the FA Cup against Championship Derby County.

However, the period did include draws against both Manchester City and Arsenal.

Palace have since improved their form. Saturday’s 1-0 win over Watford was their third victory in succession by the same scoreline. It follows successes over Newcastle United and rivals Brighton and Hove Albion.

The Eagles now sit on a comfortable 39 points with nine games remaining, having only recently been on a more precarious 30.

“We lost three games [in succession]. You have to analyse those games, you’re just trying to do it on the statistics alone,” Hodgson said when asked how his side had improved their form.

“Southampton came after we had just lost three unbelievably tough games in a row with only 11 fit players. That was a fourth game in a row for a group of players who had been quite heroic, they had got us a 2-2 draw [at Man City] by working their socks off.

“The game after that was against Sheffield United when, in actual fact, we outplayed them completely. We were so far the better team and then unfortunately for us they had a corner kick. Our goalkeeper, who hardly ever makes a mistake, makes a mistake. They got away with a 1-0 win.

“And then we go to Everton and the first thing Carlo [Ancelotti, Everton head coach] says to me after the game is, ‘you didn’t deserve that, we got away with that one. You were very good today.’

“So, the fact is we looked at three straight defeats but we did not look at three bad performances. I would say that some of the performances in those defeats were better than some of the performances in the 1-0 wins. But if you were to ask me what gives me most pleasure, it’s the 1-0 wins.”

The last time Palace won three in succession was towards the end of the 2017/18 season. They beat Leicester City 5-0, they then relegated Stoke City thanks to a 2-1 victory before defeating West Brom 2-0 on the final day of the season.

Hodgson said: “The point I’m trying to make is that we were never doom and gloom. There was never that feeling in the ranks. We knew that if we kept going, results would turn and come our way.

“We didn’t know it would be quite as spectacular as it has been with three straight wins because during my time at the club we haven’t had many three straight wins. I think we did once towards the end of a season [2017/18], and we had a hell of a team then. We had [Ruben] Loftus-Cheek, we had [Yohan] Cabaye, we had Mamadou [Sakho], we had a few great players then.”

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