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Pressing concerns for Joel Ward as Crystal Palace’s best-ever Premier League season is still possible

BY ANDREW MCSTEEN

After four wins in their last four Premier League games without conceding a goal, Crystal Palace went into their clash against champions-elect Liverpool last night full of confidence.

However, injuries to Wilfried Zaha, Vicente Guaita and Christian Benteke ensured the settled team from those last four games was not in place and they were taught a lesson by the European champions, losing 4-0 – without having a touch in the opposition area for the whole 90 minutes.

“It’s a tough one, we know what they can do, and they’ve done that throughout the whole season; they pressurise teams and don’t give them an easy ride, and that was the case tonight, they pressed from the front and didn’t allow us any time,” said defender Joel Ward after the match.

“It was very difficult; it’s difficult enough to beat their press, to get composure on the ball and to get maybe two or three passes which allows you then to beat it – they work it on so much. It’s what they build on and worked so much on; it’s difficult, but we’ve got to learn from it and learn how to find a way to beat the press.”

In a packed schedule since the league restarted last week after the break for COVID-19, Palace have a chance to put things right against Burnley at Selhurst Park on Monday night, their first game at home since March 7.

And for right-back Ward, it is important that while his side acknowledges the tough time at Anfield last night, it will not derail what is potentially a record Premier League points haul and finish.

“In the Premier League there will be times and periods where you go through hot spells and go through spells where you get knocked on the chin so it’s about how you recover from that,” said the 30-year-old.

“We’ve got the opportunity to go again on Monday against Burnley and put things right, and there is no reason why we can’t continue that form we have been in. Tonight was a difficult night when you come up against the best team in the country at the moment, so it’s a tough one to take and you’ve got to learn from it.

“But it doesn’t need to stop us from keeping going on, kicking on, and climbing the league where we need to be.”

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