BY ANDREW McSTEEN
The 2-0 away win on Saturday against Bournemouth saw Crystal Palace record a club top-flight record of four consecutive victories without conceding.
Ahead of their clash with European champions Liverpool tonight at Anfield, Palace manager Roy Hodgson told the South London Press that preparation is everything in a season which has seen them concede just 32 goals in 30 games.
“I am fortunate that this club have a group of players that take their football very seriously,” said Hodgson. “They like to prepare for the games, to be ready for anything that is going to come at them offensively so they can defend and they like to work on what we’re going to do when we’ve got the ball to try and ask some questions of the opposing teams defences.
“Sometimes you get the rub of the green as well; the chances that the opposing team create don’t go in and as a result you don’t concede goals and everyone says: ‘Your defence is fantastic’.”
Liverpool are the second-highest scorers in the league, with 66 strikes in their 30 games and with Mohamed Salah set to return to action up front for the Reds it will be a tough ask for the back four which has seen Patrick van Aanholt, Gary Cahill, Scott Dann and Joel Ward present in those last four games, in front of goalkeeper Vicente Guaita, who has 10 clean sheets this season.
But Hodgson is quick to state that there is no extra focus on defending in training, preferring to praise the players, many of whom were at the club before he arrived.
“No, we work all the time on our game, [the question is] what is your game?” he told the South London Press.
“Your game is basically divided quite simply into two parts; when you’ve got the ball and when you haven’t got the ball. We divide our time pretty equally between those two aspects of the game and then, of course, there’s other aspects to the game to take into consideration, but we haven’t set out this year to defend better than we did last year because I think our defending has been pretty solid throughout, it’s just one of those things.
“It’s just credit to the players really for the work that they’ve been putting in – not only all of this season but even in the seasons prior to this – because quite a few of the players that I am using today have been here from the start. I inherited them when I came here three years ago.”
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