After a nightmare opening run of fixtures for Newcastle United, a run in which the Magpies faced Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal during the opening weeks of the season, Newcastle face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
With only one point on the board so far, thanks to a draw against Cardiff City, Newcastle will be eager to kick start their season with three points against Crystal Palace. The Magpies have now equalled their worst start to a Premier League season since 1999. Manager Rafael Benitez would have been encouraged by Newcastle’s first half showing against Arsenal, however, the Spaniard will want to forget how poorly they played during the second half.
Crystal Palace are yet to win at home so far this season, something they will be determined to put right against Newcastle. After Wilfried Zaha launched a scathing attack on Premier League officials, the Newcastle defence will have to be on their guard. Andre Marriner will be the man in the middle of this game, after Zaha’s comments Marriner will have to make sure he is in control of the game. Zaha is well renowned for making the most of challenges, the Newcastle defence will have been told not to lunge into tackles.
After both players were unused substitutes against Arsenal, Newcastle are likely to welcome Jonjo Shelvey and Salomon Rondon back to the starting line-up. Shelvey has been a huge miss for Newcastle in recent games, the Magpies have lacked the creativity the midfielder brings to the side. Make no mistake, this is another tough game for Newcastle, quietly though this is one they will feel they should win.
Benitez will be eager for Newcastle to get their first three points of the season, the sooner they do, the sooner confidence will start to build once again. It has been a very tough start to the season for Newcastle, with the fixtures being less than kind to the Tyneside club. For Newcastle fans, now is not the time to panic, one win can propel the Magpies up the table, Newcastle supporters will be hoping that’s exactly happens on Saturday.
Palace are without Scott Dann, Pape Souare, Connor Wickham and Christian Benteke through injury.
Newcastle will be without Florian Lejeune through injury, while Jamaal Lascelles is an injury doubt for the Magpies - something which will be of huge concern to Benitez.
Crystal Palace Predicted XI: Hennessey; Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, van Aanholt; Kouyate, Milivojevic, McArthur; Townsend, Zaha; Ayew
Newcastle Predicted XI: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett; Shelvey, Diame; Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy; Rondon
Newcastle’s record in London is far from a good one. Newcastle have lost 72 Premier League away games in London, only Everton (73) have lost more. However, Newcastle’s record at Selhurst park is encouraging, Crystal Palace have won just one of their last 10 Premier League games against Newcastle United (W1 D4 L5) - a 5-1 victory at Selhurst Park in November 2015.
It’s important that Newcastle get a positive result in this game, it is likely to be a tight game. I can’t see a winner out of these two, I predict a 1-1 draw. Be prepared for Zaha to try and influence Andre Marriner’s decisions at every opportunity.