Sport Soccer

Wednesday 19 June 2019

New surroundings unlikely to hamper Spurs, says visiting boss Roy Hodgson

The Crystal Palace manager expects to see “the very, very best Tottenham” as they look to impress.

Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace are Spurs’ first opponents at their new stadium (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace are Spurs’ first opponents at their new stadium (Isabel Infantes/PA)

By Mark Mann-Bryans, Press Association Sport

Roy Hodgson is pleased to be taking Crystal Palace to face Tottenham in the first game at their new stadium – but does not believe his side will gain any advantage on the night.

Spurs will finally open their 62,000-seater home on Wednesday having initially been due to take residence at the start of this season.

Instead, Mauricio Pochettino’s side have been waiting to relocate from their temporary Wembley home and, after two successful test events, they can now move in.

Palace are the first visitors as they take on a Tottenham team without a Premier League win since February 10 and in danger of dropping out of the top four.

But, while Hodgson is happy for his side to play a part in a historic first game, he refuted suggestions playing in unfamiliar surroundings will benefit the visitors.

“It is going to be an extremely good occasion,” he said on the eve of the clash.

“I am really happy that it has fallen our way, that we happen to be the team that Tottenham are playing on the day.

“Whether it turns out to be advantageous in any way we just have to wait and see. I somewhat doubt it.

“I think Tottenham will be so anxious to do so well that we are going to see the very, very best Tottenham that you can see.

“So we will have to be the best Palace we can be to give them the sort of game we need to give them if we are going to get any points from it.”

When asked if he had been in a similar situation in the past, Hodgson recalled taking England to face Sweden in an international friendly to mark the opening of the Friends Arena in Stockholm.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic hit all the goals for the hosts in a 4-2 win in November 2012 as Hodgson handed six England debuts on what he labelled a “big occasion” for all of those involved.

The 71-year-old feels the new stadium could add more pressure on an out-of-form Tottenham side but reckons they would have been expected to bounce back from Sunday’s late defeat at Liverpool no matter where the game was played.

“The opening of the new stadium, how they had to wait as long as they have and the stadium being so unbelievably well-received by everyone as it has been, that does add that little bit of pressure,” Hodgson added.

“But I would be very surprised if Mauricio isn’t making the point that all Premier League matches give you pressure.

“If they had been playing this game at Wembley, after the very unfortunate defeat they suffered at the weekend, they would have been under pressure to beat us otherwise they would have been falling away from the Champions League spots.

“So I’m not so certain that I would want to read anything extra into the fact this game is going to be played in this fabulous new stadium other than it’s going to be a wonderful occasion for the people who are there and a great occasion for the players.

“I know the Tottenham players must be really, really looking forward to this new stadium which is going to be their home for years to come, but I can also say that we are looking forward to playing there. We regard it as a great opportunity to mark it ourselves.”

Press Association

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