Sam Allardyce: No need to coach tackling in the modern game
Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce admitted he does not coach his side on tackling ahead of their Premier League clash against Arsenal.
Struggling Palace host their London rivals at Selhurst Park on Monday night on the back of a 3-1 defeat against Southampton on Wednesday.
The fixture sees Allardyce resume his touchline rivalry with a familiar foe in Arsene Wenger. The men have clashed on numerous occasions, with the Frenchman not always keen on physicality.
But with the rules of the game changing, former England boss Allardyce revealed that in recent years he has adopted a new approach from those teams he previously managed but remained defiant on the philosophy which earned him a reputation.
“Well, we don’t coach tackling any more because it’s very difficult to get away with even a good tackle today,” Allardyce said. “We train players to intercept and stay on their feet rather than go around and tackle them like they used to.
“We have to temper that side of it down because it’s too easy for a player top get booked now and if that player continues to get booked then you lose him for two games.
“We’ve got him (Wenger) complaining at times about the physical aspect. (But) it’s difficult to bully a team now because of the laws of the game and the protection the players rightly get. Even a good tackle could get you a card because it’s said to be over-aggressive.”
The Eagles currently sit three points above the drop zone but have a tough run of fixtures, including five of the current top six.
Allardyce’s side have been hit with an extensive injury list and have up to nine first-team players unavailable for the visit of the Gunners.
Midfielder Yohan Cabaye suffered a calf strain in midweek and joins Scott Dann, Pape Souare, James Tomkins, Fraser Campbell and Connor Wickham on the treatment table.
Defender Patrick van Aanholt is likely to be absent as well, although James McArthur (back) could return, while Joe Ledley is available after missing the Southampton defeat due to his wife giving birth.
Arsenal boss Wenger has refused to confirm if he has been offered a new contract as speculation over his future continues.
Pressure has been mounting on the 67-year-old after a recent run of bad form saw the Gunners slip out of title contention and exit the Champions League.
A minority of fans have been calling for Wenger to go when his current contract expires at the end of the season, although some tension was released after Wednesday’s 3-0 win over West Ham.
The Frenchman said last month that he had made his mind up on whether he would stay or go, but he is yet to make that decision public.
Speaking about his future ahead of the trip to Palace, he said: “I spoke enough about that.
“I have nothing to add. I cannot tell you anything more than what I said many times, you know.
“I can understand that the subject is maybe of interest, but for me what is of interest is what’s happening on the football pitch.”
Victory on Monday will be crucial to the Gunners’ ambitions of finishing in the top four. They are currently seven points adrift of the Champions League places.
Third-choice goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez will again deputise, with both Petr Cech (calf) and David Ospina (back) sidelined. Laurent Koscielny (Achilles) remains absent as does Lucas Perez (thigh), while Francis Coquelin returns after missing the midweek win over the Hammers due to personal matters.