After a week full of takeover talk following Mike Ashley’s ‘up for sale’ announcement on Monday, it would have been easy to forget we have a game to play at St James’ Park tomorrow!
With this and a few other things in mind, here’s three reasons why I’ll be heading to tomorrow’s game with Palace feeling a little apprehensive. A big game and one you have to hope we’ll win, but also one I have a few concerns over:
A week of off-field distractions
Since our 2-2 draw at Southampton last Sunday, we’ve had a week filled with nothing but takeover talk following Mike Ashley’s decision to sell the club.
Benitez and his players will have set out to train and prepare for the Palace game as normal, but you can’t deny that the off-field distractions have been rife this week with so much talk of new owners arriving.
Rafa has spoken out several times in a bid to regain focus on the footballing matters in hand, but in doing this you sense he’s wary of both players and fans having their heads turned ahead of tomorrow’s all important game.
Palace arrive with some new-found confidence
This time last week, not only had Palace failed to register a single point in the league, but they were yet to have even scored!
Last Saturday saw a real turn up for the books however, with Roy Hodgson’s side turning over reigning Champions Chelsea in a 2-1 win at Selhurst Park.
As you can imagine, they were much improved and played with a far better tempo and intensity. They have lost their 4 away games thus far by an aggregate scoreline of 11-0 – suggesting they still have real work to be done on the road – but there’s no doubt they’ll be arriving to St James’ tomorrow with much more confidence than they’ve had in recent weeks and looking to match last week’s effort.
On the plus side, you could argue that their win against Chelsea will have made us sit up and take note, eradicating any complacency we may have shown otherwise, however the players are not the only ones who must not rest on their laurels – we as fans must get right behind the lads to keep the momentum going.
Wilfried Zaha – the untimely return of their star man
Prior to Saturdays’ win, Palace have looked all over the place in just about every department, but it’s no coincidence that their first win and first goals of the season came on Wilfried Zaha’s return last weekend.
The winger has power, pace to burn and the trickery to beat his man at ease – having showed all of those traits in his brilliant goal against Chelsea last time out.
He’s an explosive talent capable of causing havoc and whoever starts at left-back tomorrow will have a real tough task on their hands to contain him.
Hopefully we can stay focused and grind out another good result, however it will be interesting to see how we cope on the pitch after so many distractions off it this week and whether or not Crystal Palace can replicate the sort of performance they put in against Chelsea last time out.