The Opposition Opinion – Crystal Palace (H)

It’s that time of the week again. The ‘Opposition Opinion’ returns with the thoughts from a Crystal Palace fan, whose been answering our questions ahead of tomorrow’s clash at St. James’ Park,

As ever, we are looking to bring you a view from the other side before this weekend’s game, interviewing an opposing fan to gain their feelings towards NUFC, some insights into their club and their thoughts on of our upcoming game.

This week we’ve been speaking to Palace fan Stuart, who’s had the following to say ahead of our encounter with Roy Hodgson’s men:

Q1) What have you made of your season so far? I’m keen to know what sort of shape you feel you’re in ahead of Satruday’s game.

“Up until Saturday, obviously a big disappointment. Allardyce departing, a poor transfer window, the De Boer episode and some bad injuries early on has cost us dearly.

“However, there are signs of improvement, and as much as he is ridiculed mainly for the England episode, (and the jury is still out) Hodgson is actually decent at club level. 

“On Saturday against Chelsea, it was clear that he is beginning to freshen it up and leave his mark.

“But Saturday won’t mean much if we can’t follow it up with at least a point at St. James Park. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to.”

Q2) What do you make of our start to the season & Newcastle’s current side? Who do you see as our threats & is there any weak links in our team that you feel you can exploit on Saturday?

“Newcastle’s start to the season is pretty much as I expected. Never going to trouble the top teams but you have more than enough to stay away from a relegation dog fight – particularly with Benitez in charge.

“Big admirer of Jonjo Shelvey, who on his day is one of the best passers of the ball, and Lascelles looks like he’s going to have an outstanding season.

“Obviously keeping an eye on Dwight Gayle. A natural goal scorer but seems to have not progressed since he left Palace – too good for The Championship but falls short in the Premier League.

“I would hope we could exploit your full backs at the weekend with the skill of Zaha and Townsend.”

Q3) Likewise, who do you feel are the strengths & weaknesses in your Palace side – any players to watch out for on Sunday? 

“Clearly the main strength from Palace is Zaha. If Zaha performs Palace perform.

“Thankfully he now does that on a regular basis and we’ve really missed him. It’s unclear where he will play on Saturday because of our lack of fit strikers. At his best on the flanks, but will cause problems centrally.”

“Rueben Loftus-Cheek on loan from Chelsea is one to look out for in midfield. Looks a real talent.

“Our main issue is Wayne Hennessey in goal who at times can look Premier League standard one minute, but non league the next.

“He was injured on Saturday so fan-favourite Julian Speroni played and did a great job – so fans are hoping Speroni retains his place tomorrow.

“Whether he will remains to be seen – Hennessey always seems to be preferred!”

Q4) How do you see the match panning out? Score Prediction?

“If we hadn’t pulled that win off against Chelsea I wouldn’t be optimistic at all. But things are looking up.

“Zaha is back, Hodgson’s tactics seems to be slowly having an affect on team and I expect the team to slowly climb the table –  particularly when we’re at full strength.

“But Newcastle is a difficult place to get anything from. I’ll take and be happy with a draw. 1-1.”

Q5) How do you see both sides faring over the season? Predictions for rough league position?

“Difficult one.

“Pre-season I’d say both teams wouldn’t be anywhere near relegation and comfortably in mid table. But 8 games in and that’s all change – for Palace anyway!

“I still think we’ll stay up but maybe not as comfortably as I thought.

“Both teams need strengthening in January, but I  expect you to be well clear by then.”

Q6) Andros Townsend – He was brilliant during his brief time at Newcastle but obviously joined you boys following our relegation last summer. Benitez is clearly a big fan of his after trying to re-sign him in January, but that link didn’t resurface over the summer. What are your feeling towards all of this and him as a player?

“Andros Townsend has had a mixed bag since his arrival.

“Most fans would have happily driven him to Newcastle back in January when the rumour surface!

“But since then he’s been an integral part of our survival under Allardyce, and during our horrific start to the season he’s probably been our only bright spark.

“He and Zaha ran Chelsea ragged on Saturday so am hoping for more of the same this weekend.”

Q7) Alan Pardew and Yohan Cabaye – one loathed by NUFC fans and one loved, but two men who’ve been around the place at Palace in recent seasons. What are your views on those two?

“We’ll deal with Pardew first.

“What started off as great, pretty quickly turned sour but don’t necessarily think that was all down to him.

“He doesn’t help himself sometimes with his interviews, but our injury list when our form went downhill was pretty bad and I see that more as a factor than his bad management.

“Although most were glad to see the back of him, I think most can appreciate that we had some memorable performances under him and he’s certainly not as loathed at Palace as he is at Newcastle – why so much I don’t think I’ll ever understand!

“Cabaye has been consistently good without ever really being outstanding. A superb football brain who is probably more noticeable when he doesn’t play than when he does.

“Everything he does is so simple and effortless that it’s easy to not really notice, but so easy to notice when he’s not there.

“Has been a great signing for us and instrumental in helping to retain our Premier League status over the last two seasons – even though he was probably bought to help kick us on to being a top half club.”

Q8) Dwight Gayle – He did wonders for us in the Championship last season, scoring 23 goals, but he’s looked unfit and out of sorts so far this season. As an ex-Palace player, what are your thoughts on him?

“Gayle never really got a run in the team mainly due to our formation.

“He would probably be perfect now alongside Christian Benteke.

“He’s the most natural goalscorer we’ve had in years but, as a lone striker in the Premier League, it never really worked for him other than as an impact sub.

“Possibly one of those players that is to good for the Championship but not good enough for Premier League which is what Newcastle are possibly finding out now?

“I argue though that in a 4-4-2 formation he would be perfect player to play off a big number 9, but teams of our stature are more concerned with flooding the midfield in the Premier League which leaves players like him out in the cold sadly.”

Another great read with some interesting insights and intriguing comments from Palace fan Stuart here – who seems buoyed by their win over Chelsea last time out, but refuses to believe it means a great deal if they can’t follow that up with a result at our place.

He clearly feels Hodgson is just starting to make them tick however, and suggests the success of Palace’s performance could hinge on the effectiveness of wingers Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend and I’d tend to agree with him. Those two, especially the former, have the ability to hurt us tomorrow.

Also interesting to see him call Chelsea loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek a ‘real talent’, with the England U-21 midfielder being a player we’ve been regularly linked with a loan move for over the past 12 months or so. He’s back from injury so could start tomorrow.

 

As ever, we thank Palace fan Stuart for taking the time to speak to us and giving us an enjoyable read ahead of tomorrow’s game.

We’ll be back next week before our ‘Monday night football’ clash at Burnley, gaining some thoughts from Lancashire following their surprisingly good start to the season.

For now though, let’s hope for three points tomorrow – HWTL!

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

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