Newcastle United will be looking for their first victory of the 2021/22 Premier League season when they travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce was finally relieved of his duties on Wednesday, leaving the club by mutual consent. The top contender to take over as the next Magpies’ boss is reported to be Paulo Fonseca, but for now, assistant coach Graeme Jones will take charge as caretaker boss for their Premier League trip to Crystal Palace on Saturday while the club hierarchy decides on their next managerial appointment.

Steve Bruce was generally anticipated to leave St James’ Park before being given the honour to take charge for his 1,000th game, but the 60-year-old stuck to see his team suffer a depressing 3-2 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in their first match under new ownership.

Callum Wilson provided a spectacular start by scoring the opener inside two minutes but a flurry of goals from Tanguy Ndombele, Harry Kane and Heung-min Son in the first half comfortably completed the turnaround. Eric Dier’s late own goal gave the Toon a faint hope, but Newcastle were outplayed on the day.

Despite being the second-best side for the first 15 minutes and going down to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opening goal, Crystal Palace appeared to be on their way to a deserved victory at the Emirates Stadium as Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard flipped the affair on its head.

Unfortunately, Vieira’s homecoming to North London was marked by former Arsenal captain crouching on the touchline in exasperation as Alexandre Lacazette struck home the equaliser in the dying minute of injury-time, extending Palace’s winless streak in the Premier League to four games.

Crystal Palace now sit in 14th position in the league standings and have rather erratic results this season but impressive displays indicating a bright future at Selhurst Park under Vieira. Ahead of their key encounter with Newcastle United this Saturday, The Hard Tackle takes a look at both sides.

Team News & Tactics

Crystal Palace

Wilfried Zaha missed Palace’s match against Arsenal due to an illness that he contracted while on international duty representing Ivory Coast. But in a boost, he is anticipated to rejoin the squad if not chosen in the starting XI. Other injury issues include the long-term absentees in Nathan Ferguson (shin) and Eberechi Eze (lower leg pain).

Eagles boss Patrick Vieira has a fair few selection dilemmas with a lot of quality competition for places. A choice must also be made in the attacking line. Both Odsonne Edouard and Christian Benteke began against Arsenal and seemed to operate well together, although both forwards would want to take a central role on their own. Vieira may keep the 4-3-3 system which has brought solid results until now.

Spanish goalkeeper Vicente Guaita will take his spot in goal. Guarding him will be the reliable centre-back pairing of Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen, who both have improved drastically since the opening weekend and are now more suited to the rigours of the Premier League.

Flanking them will be academy product Tyrick Mitchell and Joel Ward. Both are expected to be tight to Newcastle’s wingers in order to shut down the flank space. Conor Gallagher will start in midfield, but the Chelsea loanee might push into the no.10 position when Palace attack in numbers while helping out the workhorses in Luka Milivojevic and James McArthur in central areas off the ball.

If Zaha is able to recover in time, Viera will prefer him ahead of Jordan Ayew on the wing despite the excellent display last weekend. Christian Benteke will be the focal point, with Zaha providing the creative impetus. Odsonne Edouard provides the Eagles with intelligent runs while working the flanks with his poaching instincts.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Guaita; Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Gallagher, Milivojevic, McArthur; Edouard, Benteke, Zaha

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Newcastle United

Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey will serve a suspension after being sent off against Spurs, but he was never going to start at Palace, while Freddie Woodman, Martin Dubravka and Paul Dummett are the visitors’ three injury doubts. Senior figures Isaac Hayden and Jamaal Lascelles are said to have gotten into a spat in the tunnel following Tottenham’s collapse. However, it’s understood to be just frustration after the result, and neither player is expected to be axed here.

It’s uncertain how the interim manager Graeme Jones will field his side, but he knows the strength of this set of players very well and may field a 4-3-3 setup. In a boost, Miguel Almiron will again be available following his late return from international duty last weekend, with Newcastle missing the Paraguayan’s energy in midfield against Tottenham.

Dubravka has returned to training after recovering from the injury that has kept him out so far this term. But, Karl Darlow looks set to operate between the sticks despite having conceded three times last weekend. Ciaran Clark should renew his defensive combination with Lascelles at the heart of the Magpies backline and try to hold the Eagles attacks at bay on the day as the Toon duo is still vying for their first clean sheet of the season.

Javier Manquillo would slot in at right-back, while Matt Ritchie will try to put a stamp as a left-back and lob in a few good deliveries into the box for the strikers. Both will have to be on-guard defensively and find a method to prevent the Eagles wingers from causing too many issues from wide areas.

There may be a little shuffling of the pack in midfield with Miguel Almiron providing the engine replacing Sean Longstaff. Hayden will press into the workhorse role protecting the leaky backline while Joe Willock can work as more of a box-to-box midfielder. Callum Wilson will lead the line for the Magpies, Joelinton, and an electrifying Allan Saint-Maximin will be deployed as the supporting cast.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Darlow; Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie; Willock, Hayden, Almiron; Saint-Maximin, Wilson, Joelinton

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Key Stats

  • Newcastle United have a strong head-to-head record against Crystal Palace, having won 28 of the 49 games meetings between the two sides, compared to 12 for the Eagles.
  • Crystal Palace have caused problems for Newcastle United over recent years, winning three of their past five top-flight meetings against the North-East giants.
  • Newcastle United have a poor record away from home against London sides with 81 losses in the league more than any other team in the top-flight. However, the Magpies have six victories in the last 12 clashes in the capital (D1 L5).
  • The Magpies are struggling to keep the ball out of their net and have the worst defensive record in the Premier League this campaign, conceding 19 goals from eight games.
  • Newcastle United are yet to win a Premier League match this campaign, marking the club’s third-worst opening to a league season in top-flight history.

Player to Watch

Callum Wilson

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Upon returning from injury, Wilson took less than two minutes to prove his importance to Magpies. Although the start was bright with an instinctive header, the English striker was largely left feeding off the scraps throughout the game, enduring a frustrating evening overall.

On his day, he can play as an established Premier League quality striker, but the Magpies are struggling to keep him fit. Since his arrival last summer, he has missed as many as 17 games with hamstring and related issues, and despite this, he boasts a record of 15 goals and 5 assists from 32 games.

Newcastle have to get the ball up to the likes of Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin if they want a positive result from this game.

Prediction

Crystal Palace 1-2 Newcastle United

A difficult fixture to call with both mid-table sides very balanced, but this campaign Crystal Palace have been a transformed side stylistically under the tutelage of Patrick Vieira and are looking very bright attacking-wise but haven’t been able to convert those positive performances into solid results.

One can expect a response from Newcastle United players following the sacking of Steve Bruce and dwindling performances so far. They will also be eager to prove themselves and their future prospects at the club.

Almiron was missed dearly in the Spurs tie.  His presence means Wilson and Saint-Maximin will be more engaged in the final third. Both sides are stumbling defensively, and there’s a good possibility the team which defend better will grab all three points. The Hard Tackle predicts the managerial change bounce phenomenon to come into play on Saturday, with Newcastle winning 2-1 to secure vital three points.

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