Connect in the back of the net

Under normal circumstances, playing against a team who have just broken their scoring and winning duck in the league is not the ideal time to be facing them in the very next fixture.

Crystal Palace’s start to this season is, quite literally, one of the worst starts to a top-flight season by any team in English football history. It came as a surprise to everyone, then, when they beat Chelsea 2-1 last time out and were by far the best team on the day.

Roy Hodgson is renowned for getting players working for the manager and the club, setting teams up defensively and getting the very best out of a situation. It took a couple of weeks, but after a shaky start for him, he has finally produced a result that he was happy with.

For Newcastle, then, the result couldn’t have come at a better time.

 

Sordid history with out of form sides

History shows us that Newcastle seem to have a habit of coming up against teams who are in bad runs of form, or players who have gone hours without scoring, only to lose badly or for opposition strikers to suddenly find their shooting boots.

Before last week’s games, I was dreading facing Palace as I was sure that their poor form would culminate in a convincing win against the Black and Whites in a listless performance which falls into place within our recent history of fixtures such as these.

When I saw Palace finally score and win, I was relieved. Immediately, there is a pressure from their fans to kick on and keep winning in order to turn their season around.

 

Not a surprise to Benitez

For Benitez, however, things weren’t so shocking.

He admits that he was surprised at Palace’s position in the league after seeing their performances and expressing how talented their squad is and I admit that they have been unfortunate not to score more or pick up points in their previous games.

I expect, in Palace, a return of form akin to their earlier games this season, however, as Newcastle will be looking to capitalise on any potential overconfidence in front of what is surely to be a raucous, enthusiastic sellout crowd.

 

Standout start to the season

After what has been a fantastic start to the season for the Magpies, the last few performances have really stood out to me. Having only lost once in the last 5 games to a resurgent Brighton, Benitez has delivered what Toon fans have long been clamouring for; a tight-knit, solid defensive unit.

There is a saying amongst fans of American Football that goes ‘Offense wins you games, defence wins you titles’. Whilst any hopes of winning the league are far from the minds of Newcastle United supporters, Benitez is showing us what his long-term vision for the club is.

He is determined to bring pride back to the fans in the stadium and also to prove that he is developing players who want to wear the black and white shirt.

Although Palace will come into the match feeling more confident than ever this season, I expect a solid performance from the Magpies with Rafa steering them to a comfortable, if exciting, victory.

 

Written by Euan Hamilton

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