The Magpies will travel to London this weekend to face Crystal Palace in what is sure to be a difficult test for the club.
Newcastle were criticized for missing an opportunity against Southampton last weekend. However, the draw meant that the club still remains in sixth position in the table, four points behind Everton.
Until recently, most clubs would feel confident ahead of a trip to Selhurst Park but Crystal Palace seem rejuvenated under recently-appointed manager, Tony Pulis.
Newcastle will need to be mindful of a Crystal Place squad gaining in confidence. Alan Pardew’s squad have been inconsistent against weaker opposition so far this season and they need to beat teams like Crystal Palace in order to finish in the top five.
The Magpies will hope to gain maximum points this weekend before a couple of difficult matches before the end of the year. Newcastle will face Stoke City at St. James’ Park next Thursday and Arsenal just three days later.
Tony Pulis And ‘Negative Tactics’
Former Stoke City manager Tony Pulis has begun to turn around the club’s fortunes after taking over just four weeks ago. In that time, Crystal Palace have won two of their four league matches under Pulis. That includes victories over West Ham and Cardiff City.
Overall, the club has won three out of their last five league matches. They are coming off a narrow 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge, giving Jose Mourinho’s squad everything they could handle in the process.
Pulis developed a reputation at Stoke City for employing ‘negative tactics.’ In English football, this normally means preferring to play the long-ball, combined with what some call an overly defensive approach to the game.
He was let go at the end of last season after the club finished 13th in the league. Pulis had been with the club since 2006 and led them to promotion in 2008.
It does appear that the ‘negative tactics’ were, at least in part successful. Stoke City only conceded 45 goals last season. Only six clubs had a better defensive record in the league.
Tony Pulis has preferred the 4-4-2 system so far with Crystal Palace, with Cameron Jerome and Marouane Chamakh as the striking duo. Chamakh has been in particularly good form recently. The former Arsenal striker has scored a goal in three consecutive matches after scoring only one goal in the first 13 matches.
But Crystal Palace are clearly not known for their goal scoring. They have only scored 11 goals in 16 league matches so far, which ranks last. Tony Pulis’ clubs are never known for scoring goals. Instead, Crystal Palace will play to keep the score low and control the tempo of the match.
Alan Pardew will welcome Yohan Cabaye back to the squad after a one-game absence due to a suspension. As a result, Vurnon Anita is likely to start the game on the bench. Papiss Cissé remains the only significant player out of action due to injury.
Pardew used a 4-4-2 formation last week against Southampton, but anticipating Tony Pulis’ tactics, Pardew might choose to play with one striker. A 4-2-3-1 formation is usually more effective at breaking down tight defending squads like Crystal Palace.
Crystal Palace currently sit in 18th position in the table, tied on points with Fulham, and one point behind West Ham United from safety. West Ham are traveling to Old Trafford and Fulham is hosting Manchester City this weekend. Crystal Palace could conceivably crawl out of the relegation zone with a win.
Tony Pulis’ squad will also be encouraged by their recent form. Marouane Chamakh and Cameron Jerome have, between them, scored four goals in the last three matches. Also, forward Dwight Gale offers creativity and energy off the bench.
However, Newcastle are coming off a disappointing draw against Southampton where they were ahead at the half before fading. But the club still remains in excellent form overall. The Magpies have won five of their last seven league matches and should overcome a stubborn Crystal Palace. Loïc Rémy, who has gone dry in the last four matches, will score on Saturday.
Crystal Palace 0 – 2 Newcastle United