Christian Benteke lavished with praise after Crystal Palace’s 3-2 win at Arsenal

BY MATT WOOSNAM
Roy Hodgson heaped praise on Christian Benteke after the Crystal Palace striker scored his first goal in 358 days.

Benteke opened the scoring during a 3-2 win at Arsenal on Sunday, before nodding on a free-kick to send Wilfried Zaha in on goal to fire past Bernd Leno after Mesut Ozil had equalised.

James McArthur added a third goal before Arsenal made it a nervy ending through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Palace held on to a fine victory, led by a resurgent Benteke.

But for Hodgson it wasn’t just the Belgian’s goal and assist which were pleasing, the all-round performance of a striker who has for so long been bereft of confidence, delighted his manager.

“I think he’s more than just a goalscorer, his all-round performance today was fantastic. If he had played that way and someone else had scored the goal I wouldn’t be saying we should berate him in any way for not scoring.

“It is good, front players need goals and of course I’m sure it is a weight off his mind, but the biggest weight off his mind must be that in tandem with Wilf [Zaha], he gave such a good performance. Not only going forward, he did a good job defensively – both did – and our compact, narrow shape was also largely or certainly in part due to the fact that they dropped in so well and made it difficult for the Arsenal midfield players to get on the ball.”

The Palace boss also felt that his side came to the Emirates and performed at the very top of their game in order to claim three points which officially confirmed their Premier League safety.

“It was a very satisfying performance,” he said.

“Even a draw is a good result but to come and get a victory you have to give a really good performance. Your defending is going to have to be top-notch right through until the 95-96th minute and then you’ve got to make certain that when you do get the ball, you’ve got to hope that your two front players do what our two did today.

“We were good value for our three goals because we carried that threat with the two front players. The midfield four and the back four were excellent at staying compact, staying narrow and we were able to reduce the clear-cut chances they were able to create.

“The team today deserves an awful lot of credit for winning against that team.”

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