Ahead of Crystal Palace’s clash with Arsenal at the Emirates, manager Roy Hodgson met with the media at Copers Cope for his pre-match press conference.

Palace have been in a horrific run of form, with many hopeless performances, picking up just two wins in their last fifteen games.

This torrid run of form has seen Palace beaten by Luton Town, Everton on two occasions, and Bournemouth, with the fan base becoming increasingly agitated with their club and manager.

Hodgson spoke about team news, the cup exit, and the young players within his squad.

Team News

Hodgson gave an update on the position of his squad ahead of this weekend's London Derby with Arsenal, including bringing supporters up to speed with the progress of academy product Jesuran Rak-Sakyi, who was due to return to training this week after a lengthy spell on the sideline. 

"Unfortunately, the ones that were out before the game on Wednesday night are still out," he said. 

"I was a bit hasty with Jes [Rak-Sakyi], I was hoping he’d do a week's training with us. Unfortunately, he still has one obstacle to clear, so we haven’t seen that much of him so far this week, just the odd appearance after warm-up and a little bit of passing drill perhaps.

"He’s not been able to take part in anything as yet where there has been competition and contact. But I’m led to believe tomorrow he will complete the last part of his rehabilitation programme, and if that goes well, as I’m sure it will, then we will see him back from next week.

"But all the others—Joel Ward, Rob Holding, and Cheick, of course, are still out."

The Transfer Window

Hodgson admitted that the injury to Cheick Doucoré has left Palace short in midfield and that they are therefore actively trying to recruit in the middle of the park.

"For a long time, all through this window, certainly, but even in the summer, when I came back, we were discussing certain areas of the field where we thought it could be good to get some strength into our squad. The loss of Doucouré has exacerbated that situation. There’s no doubt that the central midfield position is something we do need to look at."

The 76-year-old stressed the difficulty in bringing players through the door during the January window but reiterated that there are things the club would like to get done coming into the last two weeks of the window. 

"There are one or two other positions that we’ve always liked and thought would be good if we could do something.

"But it's difficult. The transfer window, at the best of times, is difficult. The January one, as everybody knows, is probably the hardest one of all, so I can only really back Steve Parish, the other investors, and Doug Freedman in the work they’re doing, and I hope that come the end of the transfer window on the 1st of February, there might be one or two nice little surprises for me in terms of having a stronger squad to go through the rest of the season."

A look at the opposition

Although Arsenal have struggled for form as of late, winning just one in their last seven, Hodgson did not undermine how difficult a proposition the north London side are for the Eagles

"They provide a massive challenge. You’re not a title contender unless you’re an extremely good team with extremely good players. I’ve not taken a team to Arsenal from Blackburn Rovers to West Brom through Fulham and through Palace thinking 'we will win this one'."

Minutes few and far between 

Hodgson emphasised that the young players within his squad, particularly Matheus França and David Ozoh, have to come to terms with their lack of game time. 

"They’re young. They have ambitions, they have aspirations. Especially if you’ve come here from Brazil, like França, you’ve come here with dreams and thoughts of taking the Premier League by storm.

"It’s not that easy, unfortunately, for players coming in when they’re young, and, of course, he came here with an injury into the bargain, which took us six or seven weeks to sort out. 

"Ozoh’s come in from our own academy. I think these players have to come to terms with the fact that it’s not going to be easy coming into a Premiership side."

However, Hodgson praised his youngsters, who featured off the bench against Everton.

"It was good that they got at least that thirty minutes the other night; it enabled me, of course, to spare one or two players. The lads that came on did reasonably well. In fact we had our best chances in the last fifteen minutes of the game. We created three really clear cut chances, contrived to miss them, but we didn’t suddenly fall away in terms of our standard of play."

Preserving Eze

The Crystal Palace boss explained his controversial decision by substituting talisman Eberechi Eze while 1-0 down to Everton. 

"We decided before the game that Eze wouldn’t play more than about 60 minutes; he’s only just back from injury." 

A cause for optimism? 

Hodgson drew upon the club's success at the end of the last campaign, explaining that it hasn't been that easy to pick up where they left off. But the Eagles boss did provide a cause for optimism in the weeks ahead.

"When I came back here, it was fresh after a very good finish to last season, where we really had played well, but of course I was working on the basis that that team would be there in its entirety and we might get one or two strengthening’s.

"Unfortunately, the way things have gone, it's become a bit harder for us, but if we can maybe get a couple of those players to help strengthen our squad, we would really like to have them.

"When people like Michael [Olise] and Eberechi [Eze] start playing together, which, to be frank, they haven’t done very often because one has been out for six months and the other has been out for two spells, one of three months and one and a half months. When and if we can keep that group together, I think we will start to climb the table."

High praise for the Palace faithful

“The fans have been with the club a long time. They’ve seen the trials and tribulations, and I’m certain they dream one day there will be no more trials and tribulations, but they are used to helping the team get through these periods of time."

Hodgson hinted that there are better times just around the corner for Palace fans and that an upturn in form is not far away, while praising the fans for their never-ending support.

"I think we’re going to give them a little bit more cheer in the second half of the season if we get players back and start playing the way we know we can play. We are very dependent on their help, both at home and away.

"I do think that in our case, in particular, the name of the fans as the twelfth man or the epithet that our fans are the twelfth man is very relevant in our case and I know they’ll stick with us, cheering the team on and pushing us forward, but it's up to us to give them something to cheer about."