Roy Hodgson

Huddersfield 0-2 Crystal Palace: Eagles flying

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  • Palace move out of relegation zone
  • Eagles snap run of four-straight defeats, seven games without a win
  • Huddersfield just one point above Palace

Crystal Palace beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 in a hugely important relegation clash at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.

Palace went ahead via James Tomkins in the first half and Luka Milivojevic added a penalty kick in the second half to seal the win.

With the victory Roy Hodgson‘s side move out of the bottom three and into 16th place on 30 points, while Huddersfield are in 15th on 31 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Early on a corner from Palace caused havoc and James McArthur could’ve scored but didn’t make the most of the opportunity with Christian Benteke also having an effort block.

Wilfried Zaha then had a shot from the edge of the box which deflected wide as Palace poured forward and then Luka Milivojevic curled a free kick close.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Benteke was then denied by a great tackle from Christopher Schindler as the Eagles dominated the first half in West Yorkshire. Jeffrey Schlupp went down with an injury and was replaced by Yohan Cabaye as Hodgson saw yet another player go down.

Soon after the Eagles were ahead as Milivojevic’s corner from the left found Tomkins and at the second attempt the defender scored to make it 1-0. Huddersfield responded to going behind with Milivojevic superbly cutting out Alex Pritchard when he was about to shoot from eight yards out.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Benteke then went down rather easily inside the box as he looked for a penalty kick but referee Mike Dean was having none of it.

Tomkins almost scored a second after being found at the back post from another corner but Steve Mounie cleared and soon after Huddersfield’s French striker smashed inches wide of the post.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Andros Townsend then won a penalty kick on the break as Mathias Jorgensen hacked him down in the box and Milivojevic scored the spot kick to make it 2-0.

Late on Palace should have scored more with Yohan Cabaye going close and there was only a slight worry for the Eagles as Wilfried Zaha hobbled off injured.

“Devastated” and “empty” Palace must pick up the pieces

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Crystal Palace looked set to pull off another Selhurst shock after Andros Townsend and Patrick Van Aanholt scored to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead over Manchester United on Monday.

[ MORE: Recap | Matic reacts | Mourinho, too ]

It wasn’t to be, though, as a Nemanja Matic wonderstrike capped off a furious United fight back that pushed the Red Devils back into second place and kept the Eagles in the Premier League’s relegation zone.

“It’s the Premier League and unfortunately we were on the wrong end of it tonight,” Townsend said. “We have proved we can pull off shocks against the top sides. We will put on a show on Saturday [against Chelsea] and hopefully pull off another shock.”

Palace was lively and busy, with twin tall forwards Christian Benteke and Alexander Sorloth a handful for the United defense and opening up lanes for Townsend and others. Here’s Sorloth, who arrived from Midtjylland in January.

“It’s an empty feeling, we should have had the three points today after leading 2-0 against United then we should have controlled the game more and don’t give them so much space on the ball and then they go and score at the end,” said Sorloth.

As for Roy Hodgson, he’s been through the wars and will be ready for the weekend, but can’t help but feel sympathy for his men after a decent effort.

“Where we are in the table doesn’t enter my mind during the match,” he said. “It would have been nice to have two more points but we still would have been very much in a relegation battle. It could well go down to the wire.”

“I was expecting to come away with one point but once again it is nothing and I feel devastated for the players.”

Palace is off to Chelsea on Saturday before a bona fide six-pointer at Huddersfield Town.

“Amazing” Man Utd overcame “disgraceful, childish goal”

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While Crystal Palace was left stunned by Manchester United’s 3-2 comeback win at Selhurst Park, the Red Devils were left between waxing poetic about their resilience and ruing their deficit.

[ MORE: Match recap | Matic reacts ]

“That disgraceful, childish second goal changed everything,” Jose Mourinho said, from the BBC:. “But the players kept an amazing attitude. Juan Mata was finding spaces inside, Marcus Rashford was open on the left and brought their right-back wide to give us more space in the middle.”

The Manchester United manager said Palace boss Roy Hodgson “did everything right,” and hailed the match as a spectacle. Here’s what he said on NBCSN:

“They also deserve congratulations because a match like this is only possible with two teams. Also three teams, because the referee maybe one mistake here or there but the intention to let the game go, don’t give too many fouls, keep the intensity of the game. He also has these responsibilities in this match.

“Fantastic match for the people in front of the screen and at the stadium, difficult match for me because my team made so many mistakes. We had amazing attitude and had very good quality football in the second half, but we made so many defensive mistakes and I’m not just speaking of my defenders.”

Mourinho closed off his interview on NBCSN with superlatives for days (or a few sentences).

“Amazing football match, amazing comeback, and very important victory for us because we have nine points left and we have nine points to fifth which is not amazing but okay.”

Liverpool is next, and United maintaining the two-point edge may’ve just changed Mourinho’s plan for Sunday.

PL Playback: London’s burning

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London is burning. Well, it is in the red half of North London and in the West. Both Arsenal and Chelsea look set to miss out on finishing in the top four this season as their dreadful recent runs continue with just three points for each from their last five games.

Chelsea’s defensive tactics were hammered by critics as they lost 1-0 at Manchester City, while Arsene Wenger‘s Arsenal reign appears to be coming to an end as they lost 2-1 at newly-promoted Brighton.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

London’s two most successful clubs aren’t quite in ruins, but they’re heading that way. Fast. The London giants are set to both finish outside the top four in the same PL season for the first time in 22 years.

Where has it gone wrong?

Let’s start with the bigger mess: Arsenal. The fact that they lost to Brighton 2-1 on Sunday was just the tip of the iceberg. Arsene Wenger’s presence at the club has once again created a highly toxic atmosphere and the players are underperforming. They have accumulated the lowest PL points tally at this stage of a season since Wenger arrived in 1996 and they’re 13 points off the top four with nine games to go.

“It’s the first time it happens in my whole career, I must say,” Wenger told Sky Sports. “It’s not easy, but I have enough experience and enough desire to turn things around and I must say that, at the moment, when you need to stay in the game we are making a few mistakes at the wrong moments. We have to stick together and focus. We have no other solution.”

He’s right. They don’t. That’s the problem.

Contracted through the end of the 2019 season, Wenger’s decision to sign a two-year contract extension last summer was both inevitable and a damning indictment that Arsenal have no plan for the future. Owner Stan Kroenke and Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis both took the easy option in offering Wenger a new deal to extend his stay at Arsenal beyond two decades and now they’re paying the price.

Thierry Henry, Mikel Arteta, Leonardo Jardim, Carlo Ancelotti and Joachim Loew are all said to be on the shortlist to take over from Wenger this summer, with the Henry and Arteta reportedly favored because they may at least get some patience from the Arsenal fans.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Until Wenger is fired, he deserves respect. Of course he does. He changed the game in England forever when he arrived in the mid 90s and his legacy will remain mostly positive, no matter what happens in the final few months of this season. But he should go in the summer. 100 percent. The problem is, if he doesn’t want to leave, can Arsenal push him out of the door? Maybe not. After a week which saw Arsenal hammered in the League Cup final by Manchester City, then four days later in the league by the same 3-0 scoreline before being humbled by newly-promoted Brighton, there’s a danger of this being a knee-jerk reaction.

But come on. This has been coming for months, if not years.

Kroenke’s decision to hand Wenger the two-year extension show how much he values the Frenchman but even the expensive new signings this season and Mesut Ozil’s lucrative long-term contract have failed to quell the relentless tide gathering around Wenger’s midriff. Arsenal must now focus solely on winning the UEFA Europa League because that is the only way Wenger will save this monstrosity of a season and qualify for the UEFA Champions League again.

Moving west across London, Chelsea’s season hit a new low on Sunday at Manchester City. Yes, Antonio Conte‘s side only lost 1-0 to the champions elect, but the way he set his team up proved how far the reigning champs have fallen.

Like Arsenal, the situation has been unraveling for a while. Conte’s constant digs in press conferences at the Chelsea hierarchy tell its own story as the Italian coach seems to want out at the end of this season.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Five points off the top four with nine games to go, it seems likely that Chelsea will join Arsenal in missing out on the top four. That would be catastrophic given their incredible title win last season, but not unexpected.

The recruitment of new players has been slapdash at best and replacing Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic with Alvaro Morata and Tiemoue Bakayoko hasn’t worked well at all. Adding the likes of Davide Zappacosta, Danny Drinkwater, Ross Barkley and Antonio Rudiger just seemed like panic buys.

[ MORE: Conte defends defensive Chelsea ]

Conte was a frustrated man when asked about criticism of his team against Man City (it was described as “a crime against football” by pundits in the UK) as they didn’t have a shot on target and had just 29 percent of possession with Eden Hazard skulking around up front in a false nine position.

“I think you have to accept every criticism but I am not so stupid to play against Manchester City open and to lose 3-0 or 4-0,” Conte said. “If I remember well, two days ago, Arsenal played twice against them and then you criticize a lot Wenger because they concede three goals in only 30 minutes. The pundit has to use the head to understand when you speak about tactics because I think you must have knowledge to speak about tactics and not only to speak in a stupid way.”

Right now fans of Arsenal and Chelsea both feel stupid.


Manchester City may break every single Premier League record this season.

They’re on course to win the PL title at the earliest ever time with the most goals scored and with the most points and the largest-ever winning margin.

Pep Guardiola‘s side passed Chelsea into oblivion and he seemed more delighted with the style and patience his team showed than the win itself.

Asked by Pro Soccer Talk about City’s record-breaking 902 passes completed, the highest number by a PL team since Opta started collecting the stats in the 2003/04 season, Guardiola wore a beaming smile as his ideals are now clearly embedded within his players.

“We try to play with the ball. We try with our power like a team. Sometimes it is more complicated when teams are aggressive. They were so organised today, it is like they play against Barcelona in the Champions League,” Guardiola said. “We spoke to move the ball quick, one or two touches, and control the counter attack from Hazard and Pedro because they are so good at it. Now we need three or four victories to be champions.”

But it is that fact, being champions, which seems to resonate the strongest with Guardiola. He seems to prefer winning games playing how he wants to see his team play over racking up team records for goals, points and so on.

“What really matters is to be champions. I never spoke with the players about the records,” Guardiola said. “I never spoke we have to win the two games to achieve something. Against Stoke we are going to try and play like we play all season. After, at the end, we will see. But we are not going to play for the records. Records are always a consequence of what you have done but they are not the main thing.”


With nine games to go, nobody has a clue who two of the three relegated teams will be this season.

West Brom are gone, pretty much, but you can pick two of the following six teams at random: Stoke City, Crystal Palace, Southampton, Newcastle United, West Ham United and Swansea City.

Plus the likes of Bournemouth, Everton and Brighton could all still get sucked into the relegation battle. This is madness.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

West Brom have won just three games all season long and Alan Pardew remains in a job for now but as soon as they are mathematically down you will see him fired. They are eight points from safety and time is running out after their narrow defeat at Watford.

As for the rest, Stoke City and Southampton played out a dour, nervous 0-0 draw at the weekend which summed up how scared both of those perennial midtable teams are of going down. Huddersfield and Newcastle were humbled by Tottenham and Liverpool respectively but the newly-promoted duo will be pleased to still be in with a chance of staying up with nine games to go. Crystal Palace are in with a shout of staying up after their terrible start to the season but Roy Hodgson knows he needs Wilfried Zaha back from injury, and fast, if they’re going to have any chance of survival.

Then there’s West Ham. What a mess. Co-owner David Gold, 81, was confronted by fans after their 4-1 drubbing at Swansea City at the weekend as the Hammers’ disastrous season spirals out of control under David Moyes. Their veteran signings aren’t working out and the fan unrest continues to build with the east London club just three points above the drop zone. As for the Swans, Carlos Carvalhal continues to work miracles in South Wales as he’s only suffered two defeats in 15 games in all competitions since taking charge. The Portuguese wordsmith has impressed mightily.

“We moved things around today, rested some players and I am very happy. Our level of intensity is very high and the players are in a very good way,” Carvalhal said after battering West Ham. “There are games where you must listen to the music of the opponent. We made West Ham dance to our music and it was rock and roll.”

Teams in the relegation battle will be listening to a mixture of smooth rock and heavy metal between now and May 13 as they aim to either calm their nerves for the impending battle, or wake themselves up from sleep-walking out of the Premier League and into the second tier.

Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here

PL Preview: Crystal Palace v. Man United

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  • Palace have never beaten United in 17 PL games
  • Crystal Palace have lost all eight PL games without Zaha this season
  • United haven’t lost three-straight PL away games since 1996

Crystal Palace host Manchester United on Monday at Selhurst Park (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via with the Eagles hoping to cause a huge upset and drag themselves out of the bottom three.

As for Jose Mourinho and United, they will be hoping to move back into second place with a win and close the gap on runaway PL leaders Man City to 16 points. A victory would also see United move nine points clear of fifth-place Chelsea with nine games to go.

In team news Palace will once again be without start attacker Wilfried Zaha, but Martin Kelly and Jeffrey Schlupp are fit. United have Ander Herrera, Daley Blind, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo all out injured.

What they’re saying

Roy Hodgson on relegation battle: “There is no alternative but to keep your nerve. The secret is accepting you have no alternatives and to remain as calm as you can — and to never lose sight of the fact that the team will only survive if the team is good enough, works hard enough and does well enough on the field to get the necessary number of points.”

Jose Mourinho hits out at media criticism: “We have very good matches and we have very good periods of matches. Sometimes the media are a bit unfair with all of us, with myself, with the players. We are better than you say.”


Even without Zaha, Palace will be a tough test for United. Roy Hodgson’s men drew against Man City at home and lost late on against Tottenham and there’s no doubting they’ll look to spring counter attacks and defend deep. I’m going for a 1-1 draw.