Wednesday 25 April 2018

Hodgson feared the worst after shipping four first-half goals at Arsenal

Nacho Monreal, Alex Iwobi, Laurent Koscielny and Alexandre Lacazette were all on-target for the Gunners.

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson

By Ed Elliot, Press Association Sport

Roy Hodgson feared Crystal Palace would concede seven or eight after Arsenal’s blistering start left the Eagles “staring down the barrel of a gun”.

Goals inside the opening 22 minutes from Nacho Monreal, Alex Iwobi, Laurent Koscielny and Alexandre Lacazette put the rampant Gunners on course for an emphatic first win of 2018 before they eased off in the second half and Luka Milivojevic’s late consolation meant it finished 4-1.

Palace were particularly guilty of poor defending at corners at the Emirates Stadium, which led to the goals from Monreal and Koscielny.

Hodgson felt his players showed some resilience in the second period but admitted the game was over as a contest by that point.

“It became very hard to take because we conceded two goals from corner kicks which is something which we haven’t been doing recently, we’ve been quite strong at avoiding those goals,” said the Palace boss.

“Of course, we encountered an Arsenal in that 20-minute period buoyed by the early goals who showed the full range of their passing skills and their movement in the middle of the field and it certainly put us very much on the back foot.

“At half-time I thought we were staring down the barrel of a gun.

“I think had we not marshalled ourselves and shown the character that the players showed in the second half and produced the work rate, it would have been an avalanche.

“As it turns out, we not only managed to stop them scoring more goals, we got one of our own and reduced the deficit to a minus three rather than a minus seven or eight.”

The result was welcome relief for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after his side ended their five game winless run in all competitions.

Wenger has come in for criticism in recent weeks after falling off the pace in the race for Champions League qualification, exiting the FA Cup, and seeing star man Alexis Sanchez move closer to leaving the club.

Asked if the display was exactly the response he wanted from his players, the Frenchman said: “I think we started well, we played well and played the kind of football we want to play and we know we can play when everybody is focused and in a good shape.

“Overall, we had a very convincing first half.

“The second half was of good quality and it’s always a bit human that you have not exactly the same drive in the second half. It was a convincing win.

“Crystal Palace responded well in the second half. They gave us less room, they were aggressive and we had a bit less legs, a little bit less movement and we were less creative.”

Press Association

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