Crystal Palace face a test of their Premier League credentials as Newcastle United head to Selhurst Park on Sunday. Just eight points separate the bottom 10 teams in the division, and defeat to a potential relegation rival could drop either of the Eagles or the Magpies – 13th and 14th respectively – right back into the mix.
After losing their first seven opening games of the season, without registering a single goal in reply, the Eagles were heavily tipped as this year’s relegation favorites. However, after appointing former England boss Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace have found some recent Premier League stability. Although the south London club still remains in the heart of a relegation battle, Hodgson’s side currently sit in 13th position and hold a three-point buffer over the drop zone. Coming off the back of a 1-1 draw away at West Ham in midweek, Crystal Palace have now only lost two in their last 14 Premier League appearances.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has returned to Chelsea in an effort to recover from an ankle injury. Jeffrey Schlupp, Connor Wickham, Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon are all long-term absentees.
In brighter news, Mamadou Sakho could return to the starting XI this weekend, as could Joel Ward.
As for Newcastle, after making no permanent signings during the January transfer window, the Magpies are still waiting to collect their first Premier League win of the new year. Although Rafa Benitez’s currently sit in 14th position, the North West side remain just a single point above the drop zone and find themselves at the heart of a relegation battle. Traveling to south London coming off the back of a 1-1 home draw against Burnley, Newcastle will be looking to improve on a record that has seen them only collect two Premier League wins in their last 16 appearances.
Newcastle signed Islam Slimani on loan from Leicester on deadline day. But the Algerian striker is injured for the next few weeks. The Magpies also signed keeper Martin Dubravka on January 31 on loan. He’s in line for a debut.
Florian Lejeune (foot) is a doubt for Sunday, while Jesus Gamez (ankle) is out.
Key Factors to Consider
- Newcastle have only lost one of their last 12 meeting against Crystal Palace (D4, W7).
- Crystal Palace have now only lost two of their last 14 Premier League appearances (D9, W5).
- The Eagles have taken 16 points from a possible 27 during this run and are looking to secure back-to-back home wins for the first time since April 2017.
- Newcastle have lost 13 league games this season; only Swansea, with 14, have lost more.
- The Magpies have not scored a first-half goal in six games since the now-departed Henri Saivet found the net at West Ham on 23 December.
Although Newcastle may have shown some recent signs of life, the Magpies have drastically struggled when traveling away from St. James’ this year. Facing off against a resurgent Crystal Palace side, we expect that Newcastle’s’ wait for their first three points of the year is set to continue. With the Eagles only losing two of their last 14 Premier League appearances, both defeats coming against Arsenal, Hodgson’s side will be looking to extend their gap over the drop zone.
Verdict: Crystal Palace win
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