Crystal Palace secured safety with a sensational 3-2 win over Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday and can now breathe a sigh of relief having survived yet another season in the top flight. That doesn’t mean that there is an excuse for any poor performances now, but it does give Roy Hodgson the chance to try something different if he wants to, with the pressure alleviated.
The former England boss has come under criticism this campaign for his tactical inflexibility, so it would seem that the Selhurst Park faithful are unlikely to see anything dramatically different against Everton, Cardiff or Bournemouth, although he should consider taking up captain Luka Milivojevic’s suggestion.
Speaking ahead of the Toffees’ visit, the burly Serb said:
“Even though I felt at 39 points we had secured our Premier League status, it is nice to be writing to you now that we are mathematically safe; it is a good feeling.
“Without that pressure for the last three games, we are looking forward to these games and perhaps using these matches to try out some other options and give more minutes to the players who play a key role in our squad.”
‘Other options’ could mean that some players who have rarely featured this term may get a run out in the remaining three games, so the likes of Jairo Riedewald, Sam Woods and Joel Ward will be hoping that Hodgson obliges.
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The former has been more or less forgotten since Frank de Boer, who brought him to SE25, departed in September 2017 and has been utilised largely in the cup games. Will he make a first Premier League appearance since April 2018?
At just 22 years of age, Riedewald has plenty of room to grow and has shown his quality in the cup competitions this campaign and for the Under-23’s, although he has been warming the bench while Cheikhou Kouyate and James McArthur keep him out the team.
Extremely calm on the ball and intelligent, the number 44 could become a key player for the Eagles in the future with a number of first team stars ageing, although it’s up to Hodgson to give him the chance he needs to show what he is capable of. Hopefully the Premier League’s oldest manager will take Milivojevic’s advice and spring a surprise in the coming weeks.