Crystal Palace - Newcastle United Preview: Eagles host desperate Mags

Fresh off victory in the FA Cup semi-final, Alan Pardew's team need the points to make certain of Premier League football next year.

Crystal Palace - Newcastle United Preview: Eagles host desperate Mags
Palace face Newcastle this afternoon. (Photo: VAVEL UK)

Crystal Palace travel to St. James Park this afternoon on a high after their exertions in the FA Cup last weekend where they beat Watford 2-1 to book a place in the final against Manchester United.

But now Alan Pardew must turn focus back to the league where they are not mathematically safe; but if he can mastermind a victory over his last club it will certainly mean Palace will see Premier League football for another year.

It hasn’t been a vintage 2016 for Palace in the league, the saving grace has, of course been the FA Cup. But in the top flight they have only won one league game in 2016.

But the Eagles will be on a high after their impressive win over the Hornets thanks to goals from Yannick Bolasie and Connor Wickham and will looking to make amends for what has been a disappointing 2016.

Wickham scoring at Wembley last weekend / The Guardian
Wickham scoring at Wembley last weekend / The Guardian

Another factor that adds spice to this game is Pardew returning to Tyneside; he didn’t enjoy the best of times there, although he reached the Europa League quarter-final and finished fifth. But his tenure was largely dominated by controversy.

But in Crystal Palace he has found a club where he is adored; and with a supportive owner in Steve Parish he has found a club that is looking to push to the next level.

It will no doubt be a tough game against the Magpies, Rafa Benitez has re-energised them and they are within touching distance of surviving relegation.

And for Palace they haven’t won at St. James Park since 1998, and their last away victory came at Stoke City on December 19 thanks to a stunning goal from Lee-Chung-Yong.

All positive news for injury-free Palace

Pardew has a full strength squad to choose from, with the exception of Wilfried Zaha who is 50/50 for the game.

Palace’s only long-term injuries are Brede Hangeland, Marouane Chamakh, and Paddy McCarthy.

The opposition

Last weekend’s draw at Liverpool gave the Magpies hope that relegation would be averted, despite it looking a foregone conclusion when Steve McClaren was in charge.

But the former Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Napoli manager has turned things around and now there is optimism that Newcastle can indeed avoid the drop.

But in Palace they will be facing a team in form; and if they leave themselves open to a counter-attack it could become a hugely entertaining game as both sides will be pushing for the victory.

Benitez has a few problems in terms of his playing staff; Fabricio Coloccini and Daryl Janmaat are likely to miss the rest of the season with injury.

But some good news is that Yoan Gouffran is back in the frame, so the former Bordeaux player could feature this afternoon.

It’s a big game for both sides; Palace are mathematically safe from relegation. And on the other hand Newcastle is in a scrap with Sunderland and Norwich City to stave off the threat of relegation.

So with both sides needing the win, it could become quite tasty in the North-east on Bank Holiday weekend.