By 90Min
December 27, 2017

Roy Hodgson is eager to see "focal point" Christian Benteke return to the starting lineup for Thursday's Premier League clash with Arsenal.

The Crystal Palace striker was unavailable for the Boxing Day draw against Swansea City due to a one-match suspension, but is expected to be recalled immediately for the Eagles' final encounter of 2017.

In quotes attributed to him by Sky Sports, Hodgson admitted that his side had missed Benteke's physical presence up top despite Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend filling in admirably.

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The veteran manager said: "We were without Benteke at Swansea; he was a big loss for us in the way we are trying to play.

"I thought Wilf (Zaha) and Andros (Townsend) did a fantastic job but when they are playing together but we don't have a physical presence or that focal point in attack which most teams would like.

"I miss Benteke in good form, that's for sure, and we'll be pleased to welcome him back for these coming games."

Palace are currently in the midst of an eight-match unbeaten run that has helped to haul them away from the relegation battle at the foot of the table, but face a tough ask in extending that stretch of matches against the Gunners.

Arsene Wenger's men aren't in terrific form but Hodgson issued caution over his Palace players expecting to secure a shock win due to their own recent good results.

He added: "I certainly don't look forward to playing the teams that are fully expected to beat us by everybody, and a team that is such a good team with so many good players.

"We're going to find it very difficult to give them a game. We don't beat them very often, either home or away.

"We'll have to be at the absolute top of our game which means playing better than we did at Swansea. Then we'll have to hope that Arsenal decide to play badly for some reason and we might have a chance."

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