Both of these sides have been in good form of late, so it should be a good match between two teams full of confidence. Alan Pardew played for Palace for four years and now he is returning as the manager of Newcastle. He will be desperate to get the three points at his old stomping ground. These two sides have will be competing that different ends of the table, but they will both fancy their chances on Saturday. In a mad week of managerial departures, neither of these two have anything to worry about when it comes to their jobs. Tony Pulis has only just come in at Palace, whereas Pardew is doing a good job and has a secure contract.
The Eagles have won three of their last five matches since Pulis was announced as manager. The other two matches ended in losses by just a single goal to Norwich and Chelsea. They played well on Saturday at Stamford Bridge, and it took a wonderful goal from Ramires to stop them from taking a point. Palace have won both of their home matches under Pulis, but Newcastle will offer a sterner test than West Ham and Cardiff. Marouane Chamakh has scored three goals in his last three matches which has silenced his doubters. The Moroccan will be hoping to continue his goal-scoring exploits against Newcastle. A win on Saturday is likely to move Palace out of the relegation zone.
Newcastle are currently in 6th place and are above Tottenham, Manchester United and Southampton. This would have been unthinkable for Alan Pardew’s men two months ago after the derby defeat to Sunderland, but credit has to go to Pardew and the players. Newcastle are one of the best teams on the road this season, winning four matches away from home, including a historic win at Old Trafford. They have only lost one in their last seven matches. Newcastle are beginning to look like the side that finished 5th two seasons ago, to finish as high as that again will be some achievement. If they continue playing like they have been, they certainly have half a chance.
The last meeting between the two sides came during the 2009/10 campaign when Newcastle won the Championship. At Selhurst Park, Newcastle ran out 2-0 winners with Kevin Nolan and Ryan Taylor scoring the goals. Interesting nobody who played for Palace that day remains at the club. For Newcastle, Fabricio Coloccini, Shola Ameobi, Jonas Gutierrez, Ryan Taylor and Steven Taylor are still at the club, with the first two likely to start again four years on.
Since Pulis took the job, Crystal Palace have only conceded three goals in five games with three clean sheets. This shows the organisation that a manager like Pulis can bring to a side.
Yoan Gouffran has scored five league goals this season, with four coming in his last four matches at St James’s Park. The winger has certainly showed that he can contribute at both ends of the pitch.
Chamakh will be a huge threat to the Newcastle defence on Saturday, and is confidence will be sky high after scoring in his last three games. His shooting accuracy (71%) and his chance conversion (57%) are both extremely impressive and show that he will cause lots of problems if he gets the chances. The main problem in the Palace side has been creating chances for their strikers as Chamakh and Cameron Jerome have shown that they will score if they get the service. Newcastle played a high line last week, so if Chamakh can dominate in the air, Jerome will have a good chance of getting in behind the defence. It is crucial that Chamakh holds the ball up against Newcastle, if he doesn’t, Newcastle will keep the ball and grind Palace down. There is no doubt that the visitors will dominate the midfield area, so if Palace are to be successful, they will need to be direct.
It’s a huge boost for Newcastle that Yohan Cabaye will be back from his suspension this weekend. They missed him last week as they had to rely on attacking down the wings, which isn’t their preferred style. Cabaye is the main creative player in the Newcastle side, and his tricky through balls cause problems for any defence. In his last appearance, he was given a freer role with Vurnon Anita and Cheick Tiote doing the dirty work at Old Trafford. It will be interesting if Pardew decides to play with a similar system at Selhurst Park as it’s likely his side will dominate possession. Moreover, Cabaye impressed going forward, scoring the winner in the process. The Frenchman is certainly a lot more dangerous if he has his defensive responsibilities taken from him and Palace are the sort of team that he could really do well against as he will get more touches of the ball.
Dean Moxey could return this weekend after a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, Jerome Thomas, Adlène Guedioura, Jack Hunt, Paddy McCarthy and Glenn Murray remain on the long term injury list and none will feature this weekend. They will likely stick with the 4-4-2 formation with Jerome and Chamakh leading the line.
Cabaye is available after a one match suspension. Unlike last season, Newcastle have been very lucky when it comes to injuries, with only Ryan Taylor on the treatment table. The defender is likely to miss the entire campaign. Cabaye will return in place of either Anita or Shola Ameobi. It depends on whether Pardew opts to play 4-3-3 or 4-4-2, the former is perhaps more likely as it will be difficult to drop Anita after his performances in the last two matches. Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Cisse will still be on the bench but both will feature heavily over the Christmas period.
Palace lost last weekend, so the new manager effect may be wearing off. Newcastle will be their toughest test at home under Pulis as West Ham and Cardiff offered little threat going forward. The home side are going to be in the relegation fight this season and I expect them to drop points at the weekend. The visitors have been in great form recently and they were unlucky to take only a point from Southampton last weekend. They have played better football away from home this season and I expect that to continue this weekend. I think Newcastle will win, but it will be a tight match.