Newcastle United host Crystal Palace at St James’ Park on Wednesday, knowing that a win would lift them to the 40-point mark, putting an end to any lingering relegation fears.
Newcastle have a quick transition between the games, with Crystal Palace coming to St. James’ Park on Wednesday night. Both clubs have only a couple of days to prepare for what has become a battle for a top-half finish.
This Premier League fixture was initially planned for the weekend before the March international break, but it was pushed back owing to the Eagles’ FA Cup run, which came to an end on Sunday. Patrick Vieira’s men went on a brilliant seven-game unbeaten streak (W5 D2), picking up four points off Manchester City and Arsenal along the way.
However, the standards have dropped off lately, and they seem to have taken their foot off the gas. The Eagles went down by a 2-1 scoreline against Leicester and bowed out of the FA Cup to Chelsea at the semi-final stage. Having held their own for the first hour of play, Palace failed to capitalise on their opportunities and paid a heavy price in the last 25 minutes, falling 2-0 at Wembley Stadium.
On paper, the south London outfit have a favourable run-in and earning a top-half finish would be vital for Palace to reflect the progress made under Vieira. But a confident Newcastle United stand in their way this midweek.
The Magpies, indeed, are soaring high at the moment. Eddie Howe’s resurgent side moved level on points with their upcoming opponents courtesy of a Bruno Guimaraes-inspired comeback win over Leicester City at home on Sunday. Back-to-back wins indicate that Newcastle have overcome their minor hiccup prior to that.
The Magpies are a real force to be reckoned with at home, where they are unbeaten in seven and have won their last five on the trot. But this game will be anything but a walk in the park for the hosts against a very imposing Palace side.
Team News & Tactics
Preparing for Palace. 💪
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) April 19, 2022
Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier are both on their way to recovery from long-term injuries and may return at the end of the month. Should Ryan Fraser be declared fit enough to return, the winger will likely be named on the substitutes’ bench and not be risked from the start.
Eddie Howe has no reason to tinker with his tried and tested 4-3-3 formation that has brought success in recent months. He is unlikely to make changes to the team that faced Leicester last time out. Martin Dubravka will continue to operate in between the sticks. Barring a heavy 5-1 defeat against Tottenham, the Slovak shot-stopper has not conceded more than one goal in any game since the start of 2022.
Along with Dubravka, Newcastle’s tough-to-crack defensive line deserves much credit. Following last week’s hard-fought victory over Leicester, Howe is expected to deploy the same back four, comprising Emil Krafth, Fabian Schar, Dan Burn, and Matt Targett, against another very potent Crystal Palace attack.
Jonjo Shelvey will anchor the Magpies’ midfield with his passing ability as he looks to try and control the tempo. The 30-year-old will play alongside the Brazilian double act of Joelinton and Bruno Guimaraes. Joelinton will be the workhorse, whereas the latter’s progressive strengths mean he will be determined to set up some clear-cut goal-scoring chances for the forwards.
Miguel Almiron will retain his place on the right flank, with his stamina and speed providing a different dynamism to the Magpies’ attack. Meanwhile, wing-king Allan Saint-Maximin will take up the other wide position. Chris Wood will spearhead the line for the hosts and will hope to get his name on the scoresheet, having only netted twice since arriving in January.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Dubravka; Krafth, Schar, Burn, Targett; Guimaraes, Shelvey, Joelinton; Almiron, Wood, Saint-Maximin
Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira has stated that the Eagles practically have a clean bill of health, with Nathan Ferguson the only injury concern for the trip to Newcastle. Chelsea denied Conor Gallagher the chance to feature against his parent club in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final, but the England international is expected to return for the midweek fixture.
Vieira may revert to a 4-3-3 formation after utilising a 3-5-2 against Chelsea and could rotate the side that started in the FA Cup a fair bit due to a quick turnaround between the games.
First-choice goalkeeper Vicente Guaita could be recalled in place of Jack Butland for the Newcastle trip. The Spanish shot-stopper will be protected by the formidable central defensive pairing of Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen, and flanked by the full-back duo of Nathaniel Clyne and academy product Tyrick Mitchell, who 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 advanced positions when Palace attack in numbers, with support coming from Jeffrey Schlupp. They will be covered by the astute defensive presence of Cheikhou Kouyate, who will sit at the base of midfield to shield the back-four.
Wilfried Zaha will pose a direct threat down the left flank. While his dribbling has dipped of late in the past two seasons, the Ivorian’s end-product appears to be piquing this season, having already equalled his career-high tally of 11 Premier League goals.
Odsonne Edouard could bring further fresh legs to the attack, whereas Jordan Ayew could be given a start out wide, thus forming a Palace front three comprising mainly of centre-forwards. Vieira may also call upon the young prodigy Michael Olise off the bench to provide a creative spark and slice open the opponents in the later stage of the game.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Guaita; Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Gallagher, Kouyate, Schlupp; Ayew, Edouard, Zaha
- A win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday would see Newcastle United record six home victories on the bounce for the first time since the 2003/04 campaign.
- Crystal Palace have won three of their last six league games against Newcastle United (W2 D1).
- The hosts have won more points from losing situations than any other club in the division since early February (10).
- Newcastle United have won with a one-goal margin in their last four Premier League home matches.
- Crystal Palace’s defeat at Leicester City last time out snapped their five-game undefeated streak in the Premier League (W2 D3). They last lost successive league games back in December of 2021.
Player to Watch
Fresh from bagging a match-winning brace to put Leicester to the sword on Easter Sunday, Bruno Guimaraes has been a difference-maker since his blockbuster January arrival. Indeed, the Brazilian made a bold decision to swap life in the Europa League with Lyon for an immediate relegation battle, but it now seems that the 24-year-old has joined a club on the rise.
A complete midfield package who can operate both as a deep-lying playmaker and in an advanced midfield position, Guimaraes really looks a class above in comparison to his teammates for his passing range, forward passing and ability to drive with the ball. Renowned for breaking lines with his passing, there is also a steeliness in his game.
He is also a strong personality on the field, and he will be a major player in Newcastle’s ambitious project in the upcoming years. For now, though, Guimaraes will be hoping to end the campaign on a strong note.
Newcastle United 2-1 Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace will be especially eager to close what has been a promising season under the stewardship of Patrick Viera on a high note following their FA Cup exit. But Newcastle United are a completely different animal at St James’ Park.
Eddie Howie’s side are already comfortably clear of the relegation zone and will be looking to maintain their push for an unlikely top-ten finish. The Hard Tackle predicts the Magpies to secure a sixth straight league victory in front of their fans this midweek.