(Photo credit: Richard Fisher)
14:15 GMT, Sunday 4th February, Selhurst Park (London, England) Sky Sports
Having pulled away from immediate danger, the momentum has recently leaked out of Palace’s enthusiastic charge.
Two successive games have produced two bland performances yet Palace remain in a strong position, albeit, only one win above the relegation zone.
With little back-up arriving from the January window and the squad still depleted by a lengthy injury list, Roy Hodgson will have to shake off his side’s creeping lethargy and reignite his team once more to ensure they remain safe in the future.
By contrast, Newcastle’s previous match provided reason to believe they can turn their ailing fortunes. However, their inability to see out a win over Burnley from a strong position leaves behind a feeling of uncertainty.
With four points separating Rafael Benitez’s side from both mid-table and bottom-placed West Brom, Newcastle are currently in the eye of an impending storm.
With the ship now steadied after collecting nine points from the last seven games, they will need to build on the sole victory picked up from their last 16 matches and a victory which would see them leapfrog the Eagles would be a welcome start to this.
Last Time Out
West Ham United 1-1 Crystal Palace (Premier League)
The Eagles were unable to overcome an injury-ravaged West Ham as a promising start led to a frustrating finish.
Having started the game with purpose, Palace created some good early chances from which Andros Townsend forced a good save and James McArthur had a header which he will feel should have opened the scoring.
Townsend found some space against Declan Rice mid-way through the first half and it was enough to provide an inviting cross which Christian Benteke duly headed past the helpless Adrián.
James Tomkins went from hero to villain as he began the first half with a vital tackle to prevent Javier Hernández scoring a certain goal, before finishing the half conceding a penalty after scything down the Mexican forward.
While the players emerged back onto the pitch from half-time, the quality appeared to have been left behind in the dressing room as both teams failed to take the initiative.
While a draw and a point apiece was a fair result for the game, it was also a result which failed to really help either side’s ambitions.
Newcastle United 1-1 Burnley (Premier League)
A sparkling debut from Chelsea-loanee Kenedy provided reason for cheer but a late own goal prevented any meaningful celebrations for Newcastle.
The Magpies poor home run was extended to eight games without a win, although there were many signs that improvements are being made with the team.
Kenedy was one such positive as he added an injection of energy into the side that often left Phil Bardsley bamboozled.
It was one such run which drew a penalty from the left-back. However, Joselu’s weak spot-kick was easily saved and offered a true reflection on the striker’s lack of form.
It was left to captain Jamaal Lascelles to once more show his team’s forwards how to score, although he often looked uncomfortable at the back with Ashley Barnes providing a running battle for the centre-back.
With a change of personnel and tactics, Burnley came back strong in the final 20 minutes and, while Newcastle looked likely to hang on, a Karl Darlow save came back off the bar, hit the back of his head and then the back of the net to deny the Magpies a win.
Crystal Palace Lineup
Bakary Sako hobbled from the pitch with an ankle injury during the first half against West Ham and is unlikely to recover in time for this Sunday’s match.
This means he will join Jeffrey Schlupp (foot), Scott Dann (knee), Jason Puncheon (knee), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (ankle) and Connor Wickham (knee) on Hodgson’s lengthy injury list.
Yohan Cabaye will be available following a leg injury picked up against Arsenal as he came off the bench on Tuesday while Mamadou Sakho has recovered from a calf injury and should return to the lineup too along with new striker, Alexander Sørloth.
Newcastle United Lineup
Florian Lejeune (foot) and Jesús Gámez (ankle) will again miss out this weekend while Islam Slimani has a thigh strain which will leave him on the sidelines.
Benitez may opt to start new loan-signing Martin Dubravka. However, Karl Darlow is expected to retain his place in goal with Dubravka given time to adjust to his new surroundings.
Benitez’s penchant for rotation should see some alterations made to the eleven who started on Wednesday with Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden, Matt Ritchie and former Palace striker, Dwight Gayle the most likely to prosper.
Key Battle: Wilfried Zaha (Palace) vs Kenedy (Newcastle)
The left wing looks to be the area that contains most of each teams creative threat in this fixture.
Zaha could find himself more permanently positioned on the wing with the arrival of Sørloth to partner Benteke.
While this should suit the natural wide-man, it may also rob him of some of the freedom which he will have come to enjoy over the last four months.
For Newcastle, Kenedy has already shown flashes of magic during his first game. The Brazilian won a penalty and struck a shot against the post during a lively performance before being replaced with around 20 minutes remaining.
With quick feet and a positive outlook, he may not always make the best decisions but he will excite the crowd with his direct approach that could bring with it, some reward.
With a shallow squad in need of reinforcements, Roy Hodgson has been left waiting and wanting. Palace did manage to bring three new faces into the dressing room. However, each one looks more like a future prospect rather than a player capable of making a significant impact over the next few weeks.
Norwegian centre-forward Alexander Sørloth was the last to arrive and seems the most promising. Having only played in his native country, most recently for FC Midtjylland, he could take some time to adjust to the Premier League.
Both Erdal Rakip and Jaroslaw Jach, by contrast, failed to make the bench on Tuesday despite having been at the club for more than a week now.
While Jach, a Polish centre-back, looks to be a player who the club intend to develop for the future, Swedish midfielder Rakip is only on loan from Benfica for the remainder of this season.
With Palace out of all cup competitions this season this leaves only 13 games left for him to play, making his exclusion against West Ham look a peculiar decision.
Keeping the wolf from the door
By contrast, Newcastle’s January transfer business seems relatively successful although few on Tyneside will be inclined to agree. Also bringing three new players through the door last month, Benitez has now got extra cover in three areas he outlined as being essential for an upgrade.
It’s unclear whether Martin Dubravka, a goalkeeper from Sparta Prague, will be a hit or a miss but he’s unlikely to go straight into the first team after being described as quiet, unassuming and nervous playing in front of 30,000 Sparta fans.
Kenedy has already played for Newcastle on the left wing and looks certain to add value to the team, however, Islam Slimani has arrived – and passed his medical – with a hamstring injury, meaning he won’t be available for between 1 – 3 weeks depending upon which report you read.
What is telling is that all three players have joined the club on loan deals. With minimal investment and just enough quality to provide a good chance of Newcastle scraping to safety, there’s a lack of ambition in these dealings which suggests that Mike Ashley still expects to depart the club in the near future.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-2 Newcastle United
Newcastle’s good Premier League record against Palace is marred by only one defeat from the last 20 years, however, that was a stinging 5-1 loss which came from their last visit to Selhurst Park.
Presently, both teams find themselves in strikingly similar positions which should lead to an interesting match where the team who wants to win most will come out as victors.
The fact that Newcastle need to win more than Palace could see them secure victory by a fine margin.