Crystal Palace boss praises his side – and skipper – for showing steel against Gunners

BY MATT WOOSNAM

Roy Hodgson was delighted with his Crystal Palace side’s resilience after they halted Arsenal’s winning run with a hard-fought 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park.

Palace took the lead just before half-time through Luka Milivojevic’s penalty, before the Gunners hit back with two goals in five second half minutes, only for the Serb to slot home a second penalty late on after Wilfried Zaha was fouled.

The Eagles’ boss was pleased with his captain and singled him out for praise, given his reaction to a penalty miss at Everton last week.

Arsenal’s Lucas Torreira (left) and Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park.

“You have to give credit to him,” he said.

“To step up once again having missed the decisive penalty which cost us points at Everton, and then do it again at two very important situations just before half-time to give us the lead and then to rescue a point, that’s great credit to Milivojevic.

“It was tremendous the way the players came back from that [going behind]. It’s not easy when you play as well as we did in the first half and come in leading but see that wiped out in the space of five minutes, and then there was the second goal which you’re entitled to feel a sense of injustice over.

Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi (left) and Matteo Guendouzi (right) fight for the ball with Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha (centre).

“To come back in the way that we did, equalise and come away from the game with a point, the players have got to be very satisfied for that. They deserve a lot of praise and congratulations for that performance.”

Hodgson praised his defence and attack in particular, noting their ability to limit Arsenal’s chances at one end, and to cause Unai Emery’s side problems at the other.

Arsenal’s Matteo Guendouzi (left) and Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew (right).

He was also pleased with the impact of his substitutes, having been criticised for what has been perceived to be a slowness of decision making in replacing his players.

“I thought that we were playing today against a team packed full of quality, and that’s not surprising seeing as they’ve won 11 on the bounce. To have kept all of their players of note as quiet as we did was good, and the one we didn’t keep quiet was [Granit] Xhaka with his bullet of a free-kick.

Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic celebrates scoring his side’s second goal of the game.

“If we take the players playing up front, our front players were much more noticeable today then the Arsenal ones, and that’s great credit to the quality of the defenders that I have at Crystal Palace.

“Last week were unlucky in that Max Meyer and Alex were both sick, so when you have players of that quality on your bench, you always look towards them when things aren’t going your way and see if they can come on and change things around. Luckily for me, they both did.”

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