After a second half humiliation at the Emirates last weekend, we must put in a MUCH better display here to avoid a second defeat in the capital in the space of 6 days.
We showed promise in the opening stages at Arsenal and were posing a threat to begin with, but basic errors, a lack of attacking intent and a complete failure to respond after going one down made an average Arsenal side look like world beaters.
Palace are struggling and on the slide, so this is a side we must get at and unsettle – not sit back against and hope for a point.
When the game kicks off at Selhurst Park it’ll have been 58 days since Crystal Palace last won a game of football. Let’s hope we don’t buck that trend in typical Newcastle United style!
(5-2-2-1): Dubravka – Yedlin, Fernandez, Lascelles, Lejeune, Rose – Hayden, S Longstaff – Almiron, Saint-Maximin – Gayle.
Dubravka will continue in goal – although he’ll be hoping for a far quieter game than he had in North London last weekend.
At the back, Clark is out for some time, meaning Florian Lejeune looks likely to come in if Bruce sticks with a back five. Lascelles seems nailed on, meaning it’ll be a straight shoot out between Fernandez and Schar for that right-sided CB slot – a battle the former seems to be winning as the Swiss star struggling for minutes.
At right wing-back, Lazaro got the nod ahead of Yedlin at Arsenal, but didn’t do enough in the build up to two of Arsenal’s goals – leaving some to wonder if he’ll be able to handle Zaha here. It wouldn’t surprise me if he played higher up in this one, with Yedlin slotting in behind him at right-back?
Personally, I’d keep Lazaro in the side and aim to expose the fact Zaha rarely tracks back, with him looking dangerous going forward and capable on the ball during his eye-catching first-half display at the Emirates. Yes he may struggle to contain the Ivorian winger, but Yedlin has hardly contained him the last few times we’ve met!
Down the other side, Rose looked a little unfit last weekend, so Bruce may be tempted to bring Matt Ritche back in – a player whose energy and intensity we missed last time out. That said, Rose needs game time to get back to his best, so I don’t see Bruce taking him out the side just 6 days after handing him his first start.
In midfield, I can Hayden coming back in to give us that extra bit of bite and presence in the middle. Bentaleb and S Longstaff were both too ponderous last time out, with the former looking like a player who’d only made a handful of starts since last April, sadly. As a result, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s on the bench for this one.
Out wide, it’s fair to say Almiron and Saint-Maximin are nailed on starters, but it’ll be interesting to see what Bruce does in attack given Gayle is finally fit again. The Daily Star’s Ian Murtagh claims he could be set to start, and I’d like to see the Brazilian play just off the former Palace poacher if he is to start.
Preferred NUFC XI – (4-2-3-1) – Dubravka – Yedlin, Fernandez, Lascelles, Rose – Hayden, Bentaleb – Lazaro, Almiron, Saint-Maximin – Joelinton.
Here’s ‘ones to watch’ in Roy Hodgson’s Palace side:
Wilfred Zaha – The winger is one of the most explosive players in the top flight – even if his constant moaning makes him unbearable to watch at times. Javier Manquillo dealt with him brilliantly earlier this season, but with Yedlin often struggling when he’s faced the Ivorian and Lazaro being caught out defensively a few times at Arsenal, he’s the one player we’ll do well to stop on Saturday.
Jordan Ayew – Palace’s current top scorer on 6 goals. Skilful and capable of the spectacular on his day. Could play out wide if Benteke or Tosun starts up top.
Cenk Tosun – Steve Bruce was offered the chance to sign the Everton striker last month but said no, feeling the Turkish striker – who was linked with a move to Tyneside during his time with Besiktas – wasn’t better than what we already have. Now he’s on loan at Selhurst Park until the end of the season, he’ll be keen to prove us wrong!
Patrick Van-Aanholt – Former Sunderland star and ex-Mag (on loan during our season in the Championship under Hughton) who’ll look to cause problems down their left if Zaha doesn’t.
Dwight Gayle and Yoshinori Muto have both trained all week and are in contention, but Andy Carroll remains out.
Joelinton has a thigh issue but should be ok to play, however Ciaran Clark looks set to be sidelined for a long time, with Bruce confirming he’s now in a protective boot after leaving Arsenal on crutches last weekend.
Jonjo Shelvey, Emil Krafth, Javier Manquillo, Paul Dummett and Jetro Willems remain out, while Christian Atsu is ill.
For the hosts, James Tomkins, Mamadou Sakho and Jeffrey Schlupp have been ruled out, while Roy Hodgson has confirmed ‘one or two’ others could also miss out after a sickness bug hit the squad.
We’re still 7 points clear of the drop zone, but our recent displays suggest we could VERY easily be sucked back into a dog fight if we aren’t careful.
A reaction is needed after that second half collapse at Arsenal, so what better way to do it than beat an out of sorts Palace – a mid-table side who’ll know that a win could move them one huge step closer to Premier League survival.
With a few of the bottom sides having winnable games this weekend, this is the first of many chances we’ll have to move within two wins of that 40-point mark.
This game’s been tough to watch and low on goals over the past few years, but hopefully we give the fans travelling to London a bit more to shout about this time around – not that any will be complaining if it’s a 1-0 win via a deflected shot off of Joelinton’s backside!
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Newcastle