Christian Benteke vital to Crystal Palace's style of play, says Roy Hodgson
Last Updated: 28/12/17 6:07am
Roy Hodgson has admitted his Crystal Palace side lack a "physical presence" without Christian Benteke.
The Belgian striker was suspended for Palace's 1-1 Premier League draw with Swansea but is expected to return to the starting line-up against Arsenal on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
Benteke has only scored one league goal this season, in Palace's 3-0 victory over Leicester earlier this month, but Hodgson said the 27-year-old is pivotal to his style of play
"We were without Benteke at Swansea; he was a big loss for us in the way we are trying to play," said Hodgson.
WATCH: Swansea 1-1 Crystal Palace
Leon Britton's first game as Swansea caretaker manager ended in a 1-1 home draw against Crystal Palace.
"I thought Wilf (Zaha) and Andros (Townsend) did a fantastic job but when they are playing together 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."
Hodgson has overseen an upturn in form at Palace over recent weeks, with the club on an eight-match unbeaten run as they look to pull away from a relegation battle.
Palace's opponents Arsenal are suffering an indifferent run of form which has seen Arsene Wenger's side pick up just six points from their previous five matches.
Sky Live: Crystal Palace v Arsenal
Roy Hodgson says he did not expect Crystal Palace, who host Arsenal on Thursday, to be starting the second half of the season outside the drop zone.
However, the former England manager said: "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."