By Andrew McSteen
This evening Crystal Palace resume their 2019-20 Premier League campaign away to Bournemouth – well over 100 days since their last league run-out, against Watford on 7 March – after the league pause due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
The top-flight resumed on Wednesday, but due to Government restrictions, games are being played behind-closed-doors with no more than 300 people in total allowed in each stadium.
Eagles boss Roy Hodgson told the South London Press that this could have a positive – and negative – effect on his players.
“Without a shadow of a doubt,” Hodgson told the South London Press yesterday afternoon about if he expected his players to react differently without spectators. “The pressure and tension are still going to be there but it’s not coming from the 50, 60,000 people in attendance.
“Some players react very well to that type of pressure – and expectation even – that comes from the fans and others don’t react quite so well. Other players would prefer a calm environment where they can concentrate on the technical and tactical level of their play, so it’s going to be an individual thing.
“But the beauty is that we’re all in the same boat; no-one’s got an advantage,” he added. “It’s not: ‘we’ve got to play behind closed doors,’ but ‘they’re playing in front of 60, 70,000 fans’; everyone’s in the same boat and everyone knows what they’ve got to do.”
Despite the lack of supporters inside the stadium, Hodgson will still be expecting the very best from his squad in what will be an important first step in the remaining nine games of the season, a season in which his team restart just seven points behind fifth place with a game in hand.
“It’s up to the players themselves to find their way of dealing with the situation so they can produce their level of performance,” said Hodgson.
“They’re still being judged on their performances – there’s no doubt about that; you want to keep your place in the team, you want to do well, you want to improve your career and you’ve got to show that every time you get on to the football field.
“Whether that is on a field in front of 60,000 or behind closed doors, it’s exactly the same, so they’ll have to find a way, but undoubtedly some will revel in the situation and some won’t.”
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