Alan Pardew faces his former club Newcastle on Saturday as Crystal Palace hope to improve on Monday night’s showing against this weekend’s opponents’ north-east rivals.
The Eagles’ defeat against Sunderland means that Pardew’s men have picked up just four points from a possible 15; they have stalled after a strong start, but still sit in the top half just two points outside the top six.
Their defeat on Monday night was their fourth of the season at Selhurst Park, something that Palace will have to rectify if they have serious European ambitions. They also have a poor home record against their opponents this weekend; the Eagles haven’t beaten Newcastle at home since 1984.
A win on Saturday could see the South London outfit end the day in the top six if other results go their way, but a defeat is likely to see them slip into the bottom half – a reflection on how tight the middle of the Premier League is at this moment in time.
Newcastle picked up their first away win of the season at Bournemouth three weeks ago, but any optimism built up by that result was shattered last weekend as the Magpies slipped to a dismal 3-0 defeat at home to Leicester.
Legendary striker Alan Shearer branded the performance “woeful and embarrassing” on Match of the Day, and pressure is growing on manager Steve McClaren to drag Newcastle away from what is looking like becoming a second successive relegation battle.
This time last year, the Toon were in the top half with Pardew in the dugout after a run of six wins in a row; whilst few fans would happily accept him back, the team could do with a similar run if they are to reach the relative comfort of mid-table mediocrity.
Palace are expected to be without Bakary Sako after he suffered a hamstring injury against Sunderland on Monday night, while Pardew could choose to start the fit-again Marouane Chamakh.
The visitors will be without Cheick Tiote and Jack Colback in midfield, with Yoan Gouffran and Florian Thauvin among the candidates to deputise for the duo.
League Position: Crystal Palace – 10th (19 pts); Newcastle – 17th (10 pts)
Last Meeting: Crystal Palace 1-1 Newcastle (February 11, 2015)
Form: Crystal Palace – WLLDWL; Newcastle – LWLDWL
Key Players: Crystal Palace – Yannick Bolasie; Newcastle – Georginio Wijnaldum
Shoot Says: Crystal Palace 1-1 Newcastle