Crystal Palace travel up to the North East this weekend with rediscovered optimism after the 2-1 victory against champions Chelsea last time out.
Palace approach their ninth game of the season with the relief at finally getting off the mark with their first goals and points after seven barren games without. The Eagles will be buoyant by their terrific performance in the deserved win over Antonio Conte’s men and will go all guns blazing for Newcastle at St. James’ Park.
Despite the cause for positive thinking, Palace will have to be cautious with their momentum as they tackle a Toon side enjoying an extremely solid beginning to life back in the top-flight. Rafael Benitez’s men have been more than a match for many of their opponents this season and will comfortably avoid the relegation battle come the end of May. Without spending vast amounts of money, Benitez has astutely assembled a competent side with promising players.
Andros Townsend and Yohan Cabaye are not likely to return to St. James’ Park to a warm reception, but both players will have their tails up with a point to prove. Starring in last week’s victory, Roy Hodgson will likely keep the same formation and tactical approach with Townsend playing up top with Zaha. In his pre-match press conference today, the Eagles manager confirmed his delight at keeping players fit and should name an unchanged line-up. Welsh number one goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey is back from injury, although it would be baffling to see why Hodgson would bring him back in for an in-form Julian Speroni. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is available for selection once again after missing out for ineligibility against Chelsea and may potentially return in place of James McArthur.
Palace should keep this momentum going and play just as they did against Chelsea. Take little risks, try to win the game but as Big Sam used to say, respect the point. A 1-1 draw would be a solid result and keep the positivity going. Newcastle are a good team and their home crowd will intensify the pressure on our back-four. Speroni can be trusted in these atmospheres, Hennessey cannot. I am going for a 1-1 draw but hoping we can nick a win. Come on you Palace!