Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola lamented the poor defending that allowed Crystal Palace to escape with 2-2 draw after a thrilling finish at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The hosts were behind for the bulk of the contest after Cenk Tosun's 39th minute opener but Sergio Aguero punctuated the frustration with his 250th goal in City colours eight minutes from time.

Aguero duly headed home Benjamin Mendy's cross to put Guardiola's men ahead but there was a sting in the tail and Wilfried Zaha tore past the timid efforts of John Stones and forced Fernandinho to put through his own goal.

"We have to avoid the mistake we have made on the second goal," Guardiola told a post-match news conference.

"Just do not allow Zaha to run, it’s that simple. And we allowed it.

"No [it was not a loss of concentration], it was a decision. Concentration was always there. We are going to solve it and improve it.

"In those positions we need to have the back four there and not let them run on this counter-attack."

Although he did not name the England international specifically, this felt like a damning indictment of Stones' efforts in what has been a difficult campaign for a centre-back frequently short of form and fitness.

At the end of his forlorn pursuit of Zaha, Stones appeared to jar a knee but Guardiola could not offer a fitness update.

"I didn't see the doctors. Now we are going to see," he said.

Champions City are 13 points behind leaders Liverpool having played two games more and Guardiola gave a weary response to a question over whether the title race was still alive – suggesting he might be better served preparing for his team's Tuesday assignment at Sheffield United as opposed to watching Manchester United's trip to Anfield on Sunday.

"I answered the question millions of times in the past few weeks," he added.

"Maybe I will watch it, maybe I will see Sheffield United. I don't know."

City thought they had a penalty at 1-0 down, only for referee Graham Scott to overturn his decision after a VAR review of the incident when Jairo Riedewald deflected Raheem Sterling's cross on to his own arm.

Guardiola said of the incident. "I don’t know the rule of the hands, honestly. It looks like hands, but…"

Pep Guardiola joked Roy Hodgson must get "bored at home" ahead of his next meeting with the veteran Crystal Palace manager.

Manchester City boss Guardiola turns 49 on Saturday, when the Premier League champions welcome Palace to the Etihad Stadium for a fixture the Eagles won 3-2 last season.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich head coach was once again quick to voice his admiration for Hodgson, 72, who has made a successful return to top-flight management after his England tenure ended in 2016.

"Of course I admire him. It's incredible how he still has the patience to be a manager at his age," Guardiola told a pre-match news conference.

"It's incredible and he is doing really well. We cannot forget the situation when he took over when they had zero points and everyone considered them relegated.

"Instead of that, he did an incredible job and it is a pleasure and an honour for me every time I get to see him."

Guardiola, a famously intense presence at the training ground and in the dugout, does not envisage emulating Hodgson's longevity.

"I think when you are still training at 74 it is because you are bored at home," he chuckled.

"When you retire you have curiosity to do other things. The problem is when you have no interests to do anything else and you are at home doing nothing.

"If afterwards you want to enjoy other things, why should it be a problem? I am interested in other things and I think I am going to do them when I am not a manager, but I enjoy being a manager."

Guardiola reported Aymeric Laporte had enjoyed another encouraging week working with his team-mates as he closes in on a return from meniscus surgery.

Form and fitness problems mean John Stones has not been able to effectively step up in his fellow centre-back's absence, but the City manager joined his former assistant Mikel Arteta in shutting down talk that the England international could join Arsenal on loan.

"I am not going to talk in this period about the rumours, our players or other players," he added.

"We are linked so far with five million players we are going to buy.

"Don't ask about that because you know the answer."

Mikel Arteta concedes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's challenge on Max Meyer in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace "looked nasty" but says there was no intention to cause injury.

The Gabon international received his marching orders in the 67th minute after a VAR review upgraded his initial yellow card to a straight red following his ugly lunge on the Palace midfielder.

Aubameyang had earlier given the Gunners a 12th-minute lead with his 14th Premier League goal of the campaign before Jordan Ayew ensured a share of the spoils with a deflected effort nine minutes into the second half.

Meyer was substituted immediately after the incident, but Arteta insists his player did not intend to injure the German.

"I just watched it and it looked nasty, to be fair," he told a media conference. "Knowing Auba, there's no intention to make such a tackle.

"Hopefully he hasn't been injured and we are sorry for that. The decision was made and we have to accept it."

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Arsenal came close to snatching all three points in the closing stages when Nicolas Pepe fired against the post.

While Arteta was happy with how his side responded to going down to 10 men, he expressed his frustration that Palace were allowed to find their way back into the game.

"I was pleased with how we started the game, with the way we dominated the first half," he added.

"But obviously after the break we knew they were going to push; they had more bodies forward and they put us under pressure more.

"We started to give bad free-kicks away and that's something that we have to avoid. Then we switched off for the goal. We completely switched off and allowed them to put the cross in. We turned and conceded the deflection, and I was very disappointed with that.

"After that, I must say that we reacted really well again after conceding the goal. After Auba's red card, we reacted even better in my opinion."

Palace manager Roy Hodgson agreed with Arteta's assessment that there was no malice in Aubameyang's challenge, but he did question why it took the officials so long to reach their decision.

"I knew it was a bad challenge," he said. "I'm not accusing Aubameyang of trying to injure him but when I saw it, it's no doubt that it's a red card. I was surprised it took so long to make the decision.

“He [Meyer] was upbeat after the game but we will have to wait until Monday to see if he can play in the next game."

Sokratis Papastathopoulos feels Arsenal have been "unlucky" with VAR decisions this season following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's red card in the 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.

Gunners striker Aubameyang netted for the 14th time in the Premier League this season before being sent off in the second half, after Palace had equalised through a deflected effort from Jordan Ayew.

Referee Paul Tienery initially cautioned Aubameyang for his challenge on Max Meyer but, following a VAR review of over two minutes, the decision was changed to a dismissal as the Gabon international sunk his studs into the German midfielder’s ankle.

In the reverse fixture, Sokratis had a would-be winner overturned for a foul in the build-up, while Arsenal were also denied a penalty in the 1-0 loss to Sheffield United in October.

"VAR is there to help the referees," Sokratis told BT Sport after the London derby clash at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

"I didn't see the action but we are disappointed this year because we are a little bit unlucky from the VAR, we lost many points.

"It's not against VAR or the referee, just we are unlucky."

Aubameyang's tackle on Meyer was in front of the two benches, with Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta adamant there was no malice from Arsenal's top scorer, who will now miss three top-flight matches.

"It went really quick. I saw that he caught the player," Arteta told BBC Sport.

"Obviously knowing Auba there is no such intention to make such a foul or injure the player but VAR made a decision and we have to accept it."

Palace boss Roy Hodgson was left in no doubt over the eventual outcome.

"It was close to me and I knew it was a bad challenge, there's no question about that," Hodgson said.

"I couldn't really totally judge the severity of it until I came in afterwards and they showed me on the video.

"When you see it on the video, the only thing that is surprising is that it took so long to decide it was a red card. It was one of the most obvious ones you could ever wish to see.

"I don't think Aubameyang went in with the intention of committing that foul. I think it was his enthusiasm, trying to be aggressive, but unfortunately he committed a very, very bad challenge and deserved to be sent off."

Roy Hodgson is confident nobody at Crystal Palace is looking to sell star winger Wilfried Zaha in January, but he recognises "serious" bids would have to be considered.

Zaha was widely linked with moves to both Everton and Arsenal in the previous transfer window, with Hodgson acknowledging the player was unhappy when no transfer materialised.

Palace reportedly set a £100million asking price, which neither club would go to, with fellow suitors Chelsea serving a transfer ban at the time.

However, Chelsea's suspension has since been reduced, meaning they can make signings next month, and Zaha continues to be mooted as an option.

Earlier in December, agent Federico Pastorello told Sky Sports News the Ivory Coast international "deserves a new challenge and a top club".

Hodgson said ahead of a Premier League trip to Norwich City to start 2020: "Wilfried is not for sale. I don't need assurances.

"We are not trying to sell Wilfried Zaha, we have got to try to keep Wilfried Zaha.

"So, what assurances can people give us? I have the assurance that nobody at the club is trying to sell Wilfried Zaha.

"But, of course, you never know where bids are going to come from, and whenever there is a serious bid for one of your players, the board of directors will take it seriously."

Before any such offer arises, Hodgson's focus is on boosting a squad ravaged by injuries with new signings.

"[Zaha's sale] is certainly not something we are looking for, and by the same token, everyone at the club is aware that we need strengthening," the manager said.

"We need certain players. We need strengthening in certain areas where we do not have the cover or the competition that we need. I believe that we need to try to put that right, too.

"If you're asking me if I get assurances, you can't get assurances unfortunately.

"You only get people saying, 'This is what needs to be done, this is the next step for us going forward', and then hope that leads to players coming through the door who we want, who would make our squad stronger."

Liverpool teenager Rhian Brewster would not be guaranteed regular Premier League starts if he joined Crystal Palace on loan, says Roy Hodgson.

The 19-year-old is one of England's most highly rated young forwards, having fired the Young Lions to Under-17 World Cup glory in 2017.

But Brewster subsequently suffered serious knee and ankle injuries and only made his Liverpool debut against MK Dons in the EFL Cup in September.

The striker has featured just once at senior level since - in the same competition - and is yet to score for the Reds.

Brewster therefore looks primed for a loan move in January, with Palace and Aston Villa both linked with bids.

But Palace manager Hodgson would be reluctant to offer any assurances over game time for a player yet to appear in the Premier League, suggesting he might prefer to look for opportunities elsewhere.

"[Brewster] is a good player, there's no doubt about that," the former Liverpool boss told a news conference.

"The only thing that would concern me there is that I don't know quite how many guaranteed games [he would get].

"If I was going to speak to Jurgen and he was going to talk to me about, 'I want Rhian Brewster to go out on loan and play some matches,' I'm not 100 per cent certain I could guarantee him that he would be the first name on the team sheet.

"He would be in competition with the three players we already have, who are experienced players and quality players.

"So, I'm not 100 per certain that that will do anything other than be useful for us in terms of having another player who could come in from time to time and certainly help us out.

"But if I was Jurgen Klopp and Rhian Brewster, I think I'd want to be going somewhere where I was the first name on the team sheet and I could guarantee that, between January and May, I'd be playing 20 matches."

Palace have scored just 11 goals in the Premier League this season, with only basement side Watford managing fewer.

Club-record signing Christian Benteke, who arrived from Liverpool in 2016, has just four Premier League goals since the start of the 2017-18 campaign.

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard commended Reece James' handling of Wilfried Zaha on the right-back's first Premier League start in Saturday's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

James, 19, spent last season on loan at Wigan Athletic and gained rave reviews for his performances, earning himself a place in Chelsea's squad for Lampard's first campaign at the helm.

The full-back suffered ankle ligament damage in August that prevented him from making much of an impact during the early stages of the season.

Lampard took the opportunity to test him and rest Cesar Azpilicueta for the visit of Palace and he put in an accomplished display, coping well with Zaha and showing his ability on the ball.

The Blues boss was impressed but also stressed the importance of first-choice right-back Azpilicueta.

When asked about informing Azpilicueta of his decision to play James, Lampard told reporters: "It's part of my job.

"It would be a tougher call if I was speaking to Azpilicueta when he is having a difficult time and I am bringing a kid in to say this is a decision I am making. It is actually a decision [I've made] when Azpilicueta is playing really well for us.

"He's a leader and a driver, but Reece and the way he is playing, I thought with the opportunity to give him minutes in a game today was one I had to take. It gives me options going forward.

"Azpi is such a great personality and character that he is easy to speak to. He feels for the club and wants the best, that shows how much I value him now and going forward.

"It might give me some selection problems for sure, but I want the best for the team. It is a nice problem.

"I thought Reece was fantastic against one of the best wingers in the league one-v-one, a real threat and on the counter-attack.

"Reece dealt with most of those situations and he also joined in the attack. You can see how comfortable he is with the ball and his delivery and passing, so I was pleased.

"I trust in Reece and, out of all of the younger players who have been getting chances this year – he has had his injury earlier in the season – he has got fit that little bit later.

"But he has been training at a level and coming on at a level where he deserves his minutes today. He did brilliantly."

It was put to Roy Hodgson that Zaha was a disappointment, but the Palace boss hit back at the suggestion.

"You're asking me now to comment on individual performances, in every game of football," Hodgson said. "They have just won the game, Chelsea. So, if you want Frank to give individual assessments of players then he will probably say, 'He was fantastic, another not so good.'

"Wilf is doing what he needs for the team, he is working hard for the team. Against Arsenal he had an incredible game, and against Leicester. Perhaps today he wasn't at his very best, but that is what football is, unfortunately.

"They are human beings. You can't legislate people sometimes having a really good game the way you'd like, but what you can legislate for is the work they are putting in and adhere to the team's play and plan, and in that respect, I thought Wilf was as good as anybody out there."

Arsenal did not come close to signing Wilfried Zaha during the transfer window as their offer was "way below" Crystal Palace's valuation, Eagles boss Roy Hodgson has said.

Zaha was strongly linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium during the close season, with reports at the time suggesting Arsenal had made a bid in the region of £40million.

There is also believed to have been interest from Everton, but the Ivory Coast international remained at Selhurst Park.

Palace travel to Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday and Hodgson was asked how close Zaha was to switching clubs.

"Not very close at all as far as I know," he said at Friday's pre-match news conference. "I believe that the money that was offered which was widely reported was reasonably accurate, and of course that was way below our valuation."

Arsenal turned focus to Nicolas Pepe in the closing stages of the transfer window and agreed a club-record fee of around £72m for Zaha's international team-mate.

"Time passed, so maybe their situation changed," Hodgson said. 

"Maybe when they made the offer for Wilf their situation was x, and then possibly things happened during a period of time and their situation changed and maybe more money became available. 

"I have no idea. I can't speak for Arsenal, for their intentions. If you really wanted to know how serious, how anxious they were to sign one of our players, they will have to answer the question."

Zaha has failed to score in nine Premier League appearances this term and has registered only one assist.

"I thought he got over his disappointment very, very quickly and he has been good in both training and matches," Hodgson said.

"I don't think the fact it is Arsenal will change his performance enormously - I would hope not, because I'm expecting his performance to be very good against all the teams we play."

Pep Guardiola thinks Manchester City can still be more clinical, despite seeing his side produce a largely comfortable 2-0 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Gabriel Jesus and David Silva scored within 93 seconds of one another with the first half drawing to a close at Selhurst Park, the second a particularly fine effort as Raheem Sterling producied a memorable assist.

In truth, City might have been far more comfortable winners, with Sterling, Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne guilty of missing presentable second-half chances.

"We enjoyed the second goal - it was nice. But in the Premier League we have to score the third and fourth because it was difficult in the end with the pressure," Guardiola told BBC Sport.

"If [Christian] Benteke scores to make it 2-1, then it's difficult. The only problem is we could not score the third one. We deserved it but have to be more clinical."

City produced a fine riposte to a 2-0 defeat at home to Wolves prior to the international break to cut the gap to Liverpool to five points ahead of the unbeaten Premier League leaders' trip to Manchester United on Sunday.

Guardiola hopes the victory is the start of another run for his defending champions.

"Hopefully we can start from here and continue our good performance," he added. "Their keeper made a lot of saves but hopefully we can be more clinical."

City started the match with a makeshift centre-back pairing of Fernandinho and Rodri, who performed well at the heart of the visitors' defence.

He said: "Our build-up was quicker because they have more intelligence and they pass the ball so well because they are central midfielders.

"The season is too long, everybody is going to play. It's another option we have."

Roy Hodgson had no qualms over the result but rued the fact Palace conceded the goals in such quick succession.

"I thought they worked unbelievably hard, we came across a Man City side in top form, I thought their pressure was excellent they gave us literally no time on the ball whatsoever," he said.

"It was unlucky the two goals came so close after the other, had we got in 1-0, who knows? I've no complaints over the result. 

"I'm proud of the way we kept fighting, we never dropped the heads or gave up and could have come up with a goal on our sheet."

Benteke almost brought Palace back into the game with his first touch, but saw his thumping header brilliantly tipped on to the bar by Ederson as his wait for a maiden Palace goal of the campaign continued.

"It would have been a great moment for him. It was such a good header and I don't know how the keeper kept it out," Hodgson added.

"I was thinking, 'Oh great, Christian's got off the mark with a great goal against the champions'. But hopefully he can still take confidence from that and take that into the next games."

Crystal Palace were willing to part with Wilfried Zaha but did not receive an appropriate offer from a big enough club, according to Roy Hodgson.

Ivory Coast winger Zaha was heavily linked with Arsenal during the close season before Everton launched an audacious bid late in the transfer window.

The Toffees reportedly offered around £70million plus two players for the 26-year-old, who was said to have submitted a transfer request.

Palace stood firm and Zaha has since featured in each of the club's four Premier League games this term.

"With Wilf, I don't think anyone was thinking we definitely must block him because we want our best player still with us," Hodgson said.

"We understood that if a really big offer comes his way and a much bigger club than Crystal Palace want him, and he is desperate to go, we are going to have to try and do some kind of deal."

Quoted in the Mirror, Hodgson said: "The unfortunate thing for Wilf is that offer did not come his way from the sort of club that he would want.

"I think [Palace chairman] Steve Parish has made that clear to Wilf and they've thrashed that side of it out.

"As a result it is not a major problem for me with Wilf coming back, having accepted the situation. The way he works here is just the same as it was. Since the first day he has been mature about it."

Zaha, now reportedly on Paris Saint-Germain's radar, featured as substitute against Everton on the opening weekend before returning to the starting XI for Palace's past three league fixtures.

Hodgson's men travel to north London to face Tottenham on Saturday.

The Premier League table is taking on a familiar look after matchweek four, with undefeated Liverpool and Manchester City setting the pace following comfortable victories.

But there are some unexpected sides among the chasing pack, with Leicester City and Crystal Palace completing the top four after home wins, while Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham sit outside the top six.

At the other end of the table, promoted Aston Villa and Norwich City are struggling to get going and both suffered away defeats, while the division is propped up by last season's FA Cup finalists Watford, who picked up their first point.

A delve into the Opta data on the weekend's action reveals the milestones being passed and records being set as the 2019-20 season unfolds.

FIRMINO REACHES 50 AS REDS MAKE HISTORY

Liverpool's 3-0 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor marked a historic milestone for the Anfield club, who have won 13 league games in a row for the first time in their history.

Those 13 victories have all featured more than one Liverpool goal and the Reds are the first side to achieve that feat since Tottenham's glorious team of 1960.

After Chris Wood's own-goal opened the scoring at Burnley, Sadio Mane doubled Liverpool's lead with his 30th in all competitions since the start of the last season, pulling him level with Mohamed Salah over that time period.

Roberto Firmino's strike 10 minutes from time wrapped up a straightforward victory for the European champions and made him the first Brazilian player to score 50 Premier League goals. He is the ninth player to reach that milestone in the Premier League era for Liverpool, who have more half-centurions than any other club in the division except Manchester United, who have also had nine 50-goal players.

DERBY TURNAROUND DENIES SPURS MUCH-NEEDED AWAY WIN

Tottenham looked on course for their first league win away from home in eight attempts when goals from Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane put Mauricio Pochettino's men 2-0 up over north London rivals Arsenal.

But Alexandre Lacazette pulled one back for the hosts just before half-time and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang drew Arsenal level in the second half to leave Tottenham with a record of two draws and six defeats from their last eight Premier League away games - their longest winless streak on the road since December 2011 to April 2012 (also eight games).

Pochettino's record in away visits to fellow 'big six' opponents is poor, with Spurs having won just three of their 27 such trips since he took over in 2014-15.

Arsenal went behind when Bernd Leno parried the ball to Eriksen's feet - the goalkeeper's sixth error since the start of last season - and Granit Xhaka conceded a penalty for the fifth time since his Premier League debut to allow Kane to make it 2-0.

But Lacazette narrowed the deficit before Aubameyang scored in his seventh successive Premier League start at Emirates Stadium - an Arsenal record bettered only by Thierry Henry, who scored in nine successive starts at Highbury.

AGUERO ONE SHORT OF HOME CENTURY

Sergio Aguero scored twice in Manchester City's 4-0 demolition of Brighton and Hove Albion, taking the Argentinian to 99 Premier League goals at Etihad Stadium.

Only Thierry Henry at Highbury (114) and Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford (101) have scored more goals at a single venue in Premier League history than Aguero, whose second goal was assisted by David Silva.

That came after former Spain playmaker Silva also laid on Kevin De Bruyne's opener, and he has assisted 87 Premier League goals since his City debut in August 2010 - 27 more than any other player.

Bernardo Silva scored the fourth goal as the champions capped a result that leaves Brighton winless in every game they have played away at City, drawing two and losing on eight of their 10 trips.

SOLSKJAER'S SIDE MAKE SLOWEST START IN 27 YEARS

Manchester United roared to a 4-0 win over Chelsea in their season opener but head into the international break with just five points from four games, their lowest total at this stage of a Premier League campaign since 1992-93.

Saturday's subdued 1-1 draw at Southampton extended United's winless run away from home to eight competitive matches, the club's worst in almost five years.

Daniel James, scorer of a sublime opener, continues to be a bright spark and has now netted as many for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side as he did in his final 22 Championship appearances for Swansea City.

But the Wales winger's third of the season was not enough for victory, Jannik Vestergaard forcing a share of the spoils with his first goal for Saints in his 27th league appearance.

Kevin Danso provided the cross for centre-back Vestergaard to equalise, although the Austrian later undid some of that good work by becoming the first Premier League player to be sent off on a home debut since Yannick Sagbo of Hull City in August 2013.

Manchester United slumped to their first Premier League defeat of the season as David De Gea's mistake handed Crystal Palace a 2-1 win at Old Trafford.

Daniel James' superb 89th-minute strike looked to have salvaged a point for United, who fell behind to Jordan Ayew's first-half effort.

Luka Milivojevic's 69th-minute foul on Scott McTominay had handed United a lifeline, but Marcus Rashford - who Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed is one of two designated penalty takers following Paul Pogba's miss against Wolves - struck his spot-kick against the upright.

James' sensational finish seemed to have sounded a victory charge, but De Gea failed to make what should have been a simple near-post save from Patrick van Aanholt's 93rd-minute attempt, as Palace claimed their first league win over United since 1991.

Roy Hodgson says Wilfried Zaha could still leave Crystal Palace despite the Premier League's transfer window closing.

Before last week's deadline Palace rejected bids from Everton for Zaha, who was also said to be a target for Arsenal, with the winger handing in a transfer request in an attempt to force a move away from Selhurst Park.

Zaha scored 10 league goals for the Eagles last season after he signed a fresh five-year deal in August 2018.

Palace have reportedly set a value of £80million on the 26-year-old, and though a move to an English club failed to materialise in the most recent window, a transfer abroad could still go through.

The transfer window across the continent remains open until September 2 and, with clubs including Borussia Dortmund and Napoli having been previously credited with an interest in Zaha, Hodgson knows there could be another twist in the saga.

"You can never rule out the possibility that it might happen because the transfer window in Europe is still open until the end of the month," the former England manager told reporters ahead of Palace's trip to Sheffield United.

"It's not something I'm going to worry about because it's something that I cannot affect. There's not too much point worrying about it, if you ask me would I welcome it, the answer is no.

"I would rather that he gets his head down and commits himself to the season that we've got in front of us and commits himself to helping me, the coaching staff and the players into having another season that we can regard as a good one. That's what I would like."

Zaha, who returned late to pre-season training following Ivory Coast's Africa Cup of Nations campaign, was not deemed ready to start Palace's opening-day clash with suitors Everton, though he came on as a second-half substitute in the goalless draw.

Wilfried Zaha's reaction to staying at Crystal Palace has impressed manager Roy Hodgson.

The winger came off the substitutes' bench to play the last 25 minutes of his side's 0-0 home Premier League draw against 10-man Everton, who had Morgan Schneiderlin sent off.

Arsenal and Everton were among the teams to pursue Zaha, 26, during the transfer window, with the player making his desire to leave clear.

But after remaining at Selhurst Park beyond deadline day, Zaha's return to action saw him given a generous reception by the Palace fans when he entered the pitch on Saturday.

"I thought he handled it very well," Hodgson said at his post-match media conference.

"The crowd helped. It was nice to have him available. It was good to have him to come on - and Connor Wickham too. I thought the two front players [Jordan Ayew and Christian Benteke] did an exceptional job, but they were tiring.

"I only really saw him [Zaha] on Friday. He was fine. He was excellent in the dressing room.

"The fact is that situation has been and gone. I am sure he will bring his straw to the water to help us have a good season."

Asked if he was concerned about losing Zaha when the transfer window re-opens, Hodgson replied: "We are in August! You are asking the wrong man. I am not worried about January at the moment."

Speaking to BBC Sport, Hodgson added of Zaha: "He did well, he did what we hoped he would do – create opportunities, set us up for a Max Meyer chance that could have won us the game.

"He almost helped us take three points. A couple of times he had to be bundled off the ball at the last minute. He's a little bit rusty, of course when a player comes back from three weeks away he's going to need a bit of time to find his true form. 

"He's phenomenal as an athlete when it comes to fitness, but to get him back to full capacity it will take a week or two."

Roy Hodgson confirmed Wilfried Zaha is available for Crystal Palace's season opener despite his disgruntlement over being denied a move to opponents Everton.

Zaha handed in a transfer request before the window closed but Palace refused to budge on their reported £100million asking price and rebuffed Everton's interest.

The Ivory Coast international will get a taste of what might have been when Marco Silva's men visit Selhurst Park on Saturday.

After sending him home from training on deadline day, Hodgson said Zaha is "absolutely" in contention for the club's first Premier League fixture of the new season.

"Wilfried Zaha is as I expected he would be," the Eagles manager told reporters.

"He's a professional and committed to the club and helping us do what we need to do to stay in the league.

"He trained today just as he did on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"I can't say he's jubilant or delighted. The outcome he wanted was to be sold and leave, but it was the last thing we wanted. It was a good outcome for us.

"It's not even worth discussing replacements for players of his calibre."

Zaha, 26, was heavily linked to Arsenal before Everton emerged as contenders for his signature.

The winger could still leave south London if a club elsewhere in Europe successfully agrees a fee with Palace.

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