At this point, Crystal Palace will take anything they can get — a win, a point, a goal — as they’ve achieved none of the above through four games of the 2017-18 Premier League season. The Eagles’ latest attempt comes Saturday, when Southampton visit Selhurst Park (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).
On Monday, Frank De Boer was fired after 77 days as first-team manager (just 32 of those days coming during the actual season), replaced by former Fulham, Liverpool and England boss Roy Hodgson, who last held a club job in 2012.
[ STREAM: Crystal Palace vs. Southampton ]
As for Saints, Saturday could see the return of Virgil Van Dijk following his summer-long transfer saga. The 26-year-old Dutch defender failed in his bid to force a move away from the South Coast — a betrayal which manager Mauricio Pellegrino admits could cost him the club captaincy — and is expected to be available for selection.
“He played 90 minutes the other day in a game,” Pellegrino said. “But (Friday) we will decide. Hopefully, he will be getting better every single week, but I am happy with that, because it’s not about just Virgil. Everybody, I think right now, is ready to be part of the team.”
What they’re saying
Roy Hodgson on battling relegation: “I believe the team will stay up – absolutely. I wouldn’t have dreamt of taking the job if I didn’t, or that I or my coaching staff wouldn’t be the right people to do that. Once the chairman made it clear that he thought that we were the right people, then there has never been a doubt in my mind, and this could be a very good year because if it ends up with us still in the Premier League and the fans happy, then that would make me very happy.”
Mauricio Pellegrino on the lack of goals: “I think the number of goals is there because we scored three goals and it’s a fact. But at the same time we created more chances and we deserve to score more goals because in the past three games, we deserved to score more goals than we did. It’s part of our job, football is sometimes efficiency, you have to convert these chances and I see the next game as the opportunity to keep improving.”
Hodgson’s tactics should play to Palace’s strengths — dynamic wingers who cross the ball into the box for an aerially dominant striker, Christian Benteke — much more so than those of De Boer. Don’t be surprised to see Palace catch a bit of lightning in a bottle, especially once Zaha and Sakho return from injury in the next couple weeks.