The last match preview looked ahead to life under new owners. Now, we can look ahead to a Newcastle United with a new man in the dugout.
For now, that will be Graeme Jones on an ‘interim’ basis, with it announced on Wednesday that Steve Bruce had left the club by ‘mutual consent.’
A sigh of relief filtered around Tyneside upon this news. He had to go and should’ve gone sooner if the truth be told, as last Sunday’s dreadful and utterly disorganised display against Spurs was another missed opportunity to add to our points tally.
On the subject of that, we’ll have to hope Graeme Jones can get a tune out of these players at Crystal Palace. He’s been given the next two games and will want to impress his new bosses – even if he’s believed to have received assurances from Amanda Staveley over his long-term future.
Will there be a ‘new manager’ boost and added zip to our play now he’s gone? At the very least, you’d like to think the players will want to impress any potential successor who will be watching on.
Either way, it’s imperative we start picking up wins and quickly, with Chelsea next weekend being followed by a trip to an in-form Brighton and our festive fixtures looking incredibly tough.
Things look pretty positive on the fitness front, with Graeme Jones confirming that we’ve almost got a fully fit squad now Martin Dubravka, Paul Dummett and Elliot Anderson are all back in training.
Saying that, Jonjo Shelvey will serve a one-match suspension after being sent off in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat to Spurs.
Miguel Almiron could also return to the starting XI now he’s recovered from his long trip to South America over the international break.
As for Palace, Wilfried Zaha is back after missing Palace’s 2-2 draw at Arsenal through illness, but this game will come too soon for Eberi Eze and Nathan Ferguson.
Preferred line up
(4-3-1-2): Darlow – Manquillo, Schar, Fernandez, Lewis – Hayden, S Longstaff, Willock – Almiron – Saint-Maximin, Wilson.
In this section I usually name my predicted line up, but with Jones replacing Bruce as our ‘interim’ manager just a few days ago, it’s very difficult to say what he’ll go with.
One system we used soon after Jones arrived in January was a 4-3-1-2 formation. It had its issues, but worked superbly in wins over Everton (0-2) and Southampton (3-2) last season and I would be tempted to give it another go.
With Almiron in his favoured position and just ahead of the midfield three, they could be given more license to support our full-backs in wide areas, also allowing Saint-Maximin and Wilson to play as split strikers.
This would suit ASM, with him struggling with his defensive duties when played as a winger in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat to Spurs. He’s shone in a more free role this season and could be given more license to do damage in the final third in this formation – not be tasked to cover for full-backs against the likes of Wilfried Zaha.
It could be that Jones sticks to what the players are more familiar with, especially just a few days on from Bruce’s sacking, but big change to a formation that produced some of our best displays last season could be what this team needs.
As for Palace, I can see them setting up like this…
(4-2-3-1): Guaita – Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell – McCarthur, Milivojevic – Olise, Gallagher, Zaha – Edouard.
I’ve been eating my words when it comes to Crystal Palace so far this season.
They recruited very well over the summer, however I wasn’t sure how Patrick Viera would manage – especially in such a big transition for a club that was previously just plodding on under Roy Hodgson.
The Eagles were very unlucky not to win at Arsenal on Monday and have a host of exciting attackers. The fact the league’s worst defence is facing Zaha, Gallagher and Edouard doesn’t fill me with a great deal of confidence.
However, we’ll have to hope Jones injects some life and new ideas into a side that looked tired of Steve Bruce’s tactics, not to mention they’ll be out to impress any potential replacement.
I can’t see us winning and fear a confidence Palace might blow us away, but will go for a high-scoring draw.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-2 Newcastle