Hodgson: Gap between top of Premier League and rest isn’t that great

Roy Hodgson felt his Crystal Palace side matched Tottenham despite falling to another home defeat at Selhurst Park thanks to Juan Foyth’s second-half header, writes Matt Woosnam.

The Argentinian defender nodded home from close range after Palace failed to deal with a corner, but the Eagles had defended well as a unit before the winning goal.

“It’s very hard when a team does so many good things in terms of their tactical approach and discipline, and their effort and determination, but you end up losing a game 1-0. It’s hard to take” Hodgson said.

“You can basically just quote everything I said against Arsenal and Chelsea because it’s exactly the same situation. The three performances are almost parallel and the team has done extremely well, but the point is that’s not going to stop anyone countering that by saying that we didn’t win the game, score a goal or that Wilfried Zaha didn’t play so we lost.

“I know that’s not true, and anyone that watched the game will also know that. The fact is that we’ve not won a game without Wilf for God knows how long, and this is another one to add to the list. He has a hamstring injury he picked up against Chelsea. It was always extremely unlikely he was going to recover in time, basically it’s trying to get him fit for Manchester United.

“Wilf being Wilf never wants to rule himself out and hopes that miraculously, despite not having trained, something might happen between Friday and Saturday that would allow him to get out there, but that wasn’t the case as both my doctors and physio staff had told me.”

Without Zaha Palace have lost their last 13 Premier League games, and the Ivorian missed out through injury, but another key man in James Tomkins hobbled off with an injury early in the second half.

Hodgson said: “That was a blow. He got a bad knock on the knee and I don’t think it’s a knee injury that has come about by something being torn or twisted, it was quite simply a clash where he’s got some bad bruising on the knee.

“You could see it was restricting his movement. He wanted to carry on and we wanted him to give it another try but it was obvious to me that he was limping around, and unfortunately we had to take him off.

“Kelly came on and did extremely well but it was a disruption and it came at a time that they scored their corner kick.”

Despite the top clubs’ domination of the Premier League this season, the Eagles boss is insistent that it is still competitive.

“If I’m watching that game today, it would suggest that the gap isn’t so great. The game against Arsenal would suggest the same, and even until about the 65th minute, when a goal that should have been disallowed wasn’t, possibly even the Chelsea game.

“It’s the same situation with Wilf. I know that we didn’t lose today because Wilf wasn’t there, we lost because they took advantage of a situation from a corner kick and scored a goal that was one of very few chances. We laboured away extremely well and even created ourselves some chances which we were unable to take.

“Of course there is a gap – that cannot be denied. But I don’t think it’s got to the situation where it’s two different leagues, albeit teams like ourselves have to give extremely good performances to stay in the game and match our opponents. In my opinion, we did that today.”

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