Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson hopes his side can produce another “unbelievable” defensive performance to shackle Premier League title challengers Manchester City at Selhurst Park.
City head to south London on Sunday looking to keep up the pressure on leaders Liverpool, who are currently two points ahead having played a match more.
Hodgson masterminded a memorable 3-2 victory for the Eagles at the Etihad Stadium just before Christmas in what remains the only home league defeat for Pep Guardiola’s men.
Former England boss Hodgson knows just what a formidable challenge his side will face again – and now without defender James Tomkins, who is set to miss the remainder of the campaign following groin surgery.
“The only way you are ever going to get a result against them is first of all if your defence is in unbelievable form and players are prepared to work harder than perhaps they ever have on the field before,” he said.
“We know that the opponents do not have weaknesses, and what is more, how hard they work.
“The major formula, if you like, for getting a positive result is you know you are not going to have the ball as much as they are, you know you are not going to get as many chances as they will have.
“You have got to make certain that when you get your chance you take it, which is pretty much what happened at Man City.
“I can’t come off there saying ‘we beat Man City 3-2 because we outplayed them from start to finish’ because they had the ball for the best part of the time and had more opportunities to score.
“But luckily enough we defended well enough and took our own chances, it will be no different at Selhurst Park.”
Since losing against Palace, when winger Andros Townsend scored a memorable volley, City have won 12 out of 14 league games – including eight consecutive victories, as well as reaching the FA Cup final.
Guardiola’s side will be looking for a response following the midweek 1-0 loss in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Tottenham.
Hodgson, whose side sit on 39 points as they aim to stay clear of trouble, is in no doubt of just what challenges awaits.
“As much as I like playing at home, with the atmosphere and the support we get from the crowd, it doesn’t alter the fact that we’re playing a team which most people regard as one of the best teams in Europe, not purely in the Premier League,” he said.
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