Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson feels his players are still committed to the cause despite the crushing 5-0 defeat at Arsenal which revived concerns about the 76-year-old’s continued suitability to lead them.
Palace finally seemed to be emerging from a considerable injury crisis when the influential Michael Olise, who sat out a lengthy spell to start the season, sustained a second hamstring issue in their vital 3-1 victory over Brentford to close out 2023.
With Jordan Ayew on Ghana duty at the Africa Cup of Nations and the Emirates Stadium trip following on a midweek FA Cup third-round replay loss to Everton, Hodgson was once again forced to cope with diminished attacking options and a tired squad on an afternoon that provided few hopeful sparks for fans in the away end, some of whom raised banners protesting a perceived lack of direction at their club.
Hodgson said: “We were outplayed, in particular towards the end of the game, but up until that period I thought the players still showed that they are still committed and they were still wanting to do well for the club.
“First of all, they’ve got to stick very much with the work that they’ve been doing on the training field, that they stick together in terms of their attitude.
“To be honest, I didn’t think the attitude during the course of the game was particularly debatable. I didn’t see people losing hope or losing faith, we kept going, we were playing against a better team.
“I think we’ve shown over the last year that we have capabilities in that respect, and I’m not prepared to suddenly dismiss those capabilities on the basis of losing 1-0 to Everton and Arsenal away from home.”
Substitute Gabriel Martinelli struck two near-identical goals past Dean Henderson in as many minutes of second-half stoppage time to consign the visitors to the crushing defeat.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta agreed the achievement would give the Brazilian a boost, revealing the 22-year-old had not felt 100 per cent in the build-up to Saturday’s contest before he doubled his Premier League goal tally for the season in a single afternoon.
The Gunners, who were eliminated by Liverpool in their own third-round FA Cup clash, next travel to Nottingham Forest before facing Jurgen Klopp’s men again in a massive meeting for their title hopes.
Arteta added: “At the moment we are really short in numbers, so we really have to manage a few players, especially players that have played a lot of football.
“We have good training blocks, one to train really hard and other ones to use for game preparation, so we’re going to have to try to maximise that space.”