Date: 12th March 2018 at 5:57am
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Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson felt that the side had suffered dearly for a poor first half showing as we faced Chelsea this weekend.

Heading to Stamford Bridge for the latest Premier League action, Palace fell to a two one defeat on the day with Willian and Martin Kelly being credited with an own goal in the opening 45 minutes, and despite improvement after the break Patrick van Aanholt’s 90th minute effort was only a consolation given their performance and the mountain we’d given ourselves to climb.

Speaking to Crystal Palace FC as he met with the media following the game, a disappointed Hodgson explained that he still felt optimistic moving forward, but he knew we couldn’t start matches in that manner and expect to come out with the points we need.

‘It`s a shame that we didn`t play the whole of the game as we played the second half. I thought there was far too big a difference between the first and the second in our performance defensively and offensively, and we paid the price for it. Coming in 2-0 down against a team of Chelsea`s quality, and not least of all their pace and power on the counter-attack, it was always going to be very difficult, and a repeat of the first half performance could have ended extremely badly for us.’

The former England man went on to say.

‘The second half was much better – I thought that we were more aggressive and pushed up better from the back and played as we`d hoped to right from the first whistle. The introduction of Wilfried Zaha gave us a bit of a bonus and we started to ask questions of Chelsea, and in the end we could have drawn the game. The level of commitment in the first half wasn`t good enough in my opinion. I don`t think we had all 11 doing that in the first half, but we had all 11 doing it in the second.’

Hodgson admitted that with Alexander Sorloth having seen his effort disallowed ‘everyone’ had told him he should be aggrieved by that but at the time of speaking he hadn’t seen a replay personally and he also explained that hindsight didn’t suggest he should’ve started Wilfried Zaha in the game as a balance needed to be struck with his fitness levels.

‘I thought we balanced it up as best we could, but I would have preferred to have kept him on the bench longer but the fact is I was disappointed with our first half performance so the temptation to bring a player of his quality on was too strong for me to resist.’

With three straight defeats against the top sides, Hodgson still had hope though.

‘We`ve just suffered three straight defeats against top teams but on each occasion we haven`t discredited ourselves in any way. We have nothing to be ashamed of in any of the performances, and there`s only one half of those six that I feel we`ve been below the level that we believe we can reach.’

He went on to qualify.

‘The bottom line is we`ve conceded an 88th minute goal against Tottenham to take away a point we`d worked hard for, and conceded a 92nd minute goal against Man United to do the same, and today we`ve done our level best to come back on terms with Chelsea, and perhaps if the referee had interpreted a foul we might have come away from this game with a point. It`s very clear to me and the players what we have to do in these last eight games, and it will be to reproduce five of these last six halves that we`ve produced to make certain that we leave no stone unturned in our fight to stay in the league.’

He also confirmed that Ruben Loftus-Cheek had been passed fit and had trained at Chelsea all week, and this week he returns to us following his injury. He added.

‘Yohan Cabaye will be back in training, Mamadou Sakho will be training from the first day rather than just the day before the match, and we hope to get a full week`s training out of Wilf as well.’

He ended by saying about the injury issues and our run in.

‘If that happens then my squad will be looking more like the squad I had just before Christmas, and give me options tactically in terms of personnel which I`ve not had in the last three or four weeks. It`s a great credit to the players – I can`t speak highly enough of the back four because they`ve been all we`ve got but they`ve done a fantastic job.’

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