Roy Hodgson has blamed injuries and throw-ins for Crystal Palace’s failure to advance beyond Watford in the FA Cup, after the Hornets ran out 2-1 winners in Saturday’s Quarter-Final between the two sides at Vicarage Road.
Having lost Mamadou Sakho a few weeks back with a problem which required surgery, Hodgson and his Palace staff were dealt the significant blow of doing without Wilfried Zaha too, thanks to a hamstring problem the winger picked up against Brighton last weekend. Having not trained on it for a few days following the game against the Seagulls, there was some hope that the 26-year-old would return for the FA Cup tie but when push came to shove, it was deemed to be far too big a risk for the club to take with our Premier League status still not secured.
It seems as though Hodgson is hopeful if not certain of Zaha returning for the first game back after the international break at home to Huddersfield, which explains the risks that would have come with playing him at Watford and potentially causing far more damage to an existing problem. With both he and Sakho missing, it’s no surprise to hear the boss reference it in summing up where the tie got away from us.
Having got back to all square thanks to Michy Batshuayi’s equaliser, Hodgson also bemoaned the amount of throw-ins which followed Watford’s second goal of the day. Understandably given what was at stake, Watford did all they could to run the clock down after re-taking the lead and whilst I can agree with Roy that is was frustrating to see, the obvious solution to such a thing would have been to show more proactive tactics once back on level terms in a bid to prevent Andre Gray’s winner from finding the back of the net.
We all know that hindsight is a man’s best friend but as supporters, we’ve now seen back-to-back games in which Palace have regained parity after falling behind, only to figuratively take our foot off their throats and concede once more. The passive nature of our play on both occasions has been maddening to see and without any real tactical explanation from the boss, I’m not sure moans and groans about a high number of throw-ins really cuts it.