Newcastle United v Crystal Palace

A rocking St James’ Park under the lights

Wednesday 20th April 19:45 kick off

No Television coverage

Eddie’s Mighty Mags host their third home game on the bounce this Wednesday with a deflated Eagles side making the long trip to NE1. They arrive on the back of a shattering 2-0 defeat in the FA Cup Semi Final to Chelsea, which effectively confirms that their season is done.

Once again, SJP is a sell out and the atmosphere will be rocking as we go in search of a sixth home PL win on the bounce. We haven’t achieved this since we won 7 on the hoof in the 2003/2004 season, and the lads will be itching to get at Palace from the off.

With any thoughts of relegation being well and truly put to bed after Bruno’s sensational 95th minute winner against Leicester on Sunday, we can approach this game with verve and gusto and a genuine chance of finishing what has been, for the first half of the season, a stinker, in the Top 10. Even the most optimistic of fans (me) would have thought you were on crack if you’d told me that we’d be sitting pretty on 37 points with 6 games left. Yet, here we are, having suffered just 3 league reverses since Manchester City came to town before Christmas!

The whole city is buzzing in anticipation of what the summer holds for us, and it would be easy for the players to take their feet off the gas and coast towards the end of the campaign. Somehow, I sense this isn’t going to happen. Our gaffer made it abundantly clear in his post-match presser that every single member of the squad is playing for their future at this club and I love this attitude.

I must admit that before the season kicked off, I had tipped Palace for relegation. Patrick Vieira swooped into Selhurst Park with a pretty flaky managerial CV, having done very little to enhance his reputation at New York City and Nice. He has surprised me and has taken an average group of players to 13th, with the same points as The Toon and a game in hand. They’re the only side in the bottom half with a positive goal difference and have picked up some superb wins this season, including taking maximum points at The Etihad back in October, so they’re going to be no pushovers this Wednesday.

Palace have a smattering of talented individuals, with Wilfred Zaha very much their talisman, but he’s ably supported by Ebere Eze, Will Hughes (who was forever linked to us), Odsonne Édouard (a big money signing from Celtic) and Jean-Phillipe Mateta. I do think their best piece of business in the summer was securing Connor Gallagher on loan from Chelsea. At 22, he’s an incredible talent who’s only going to improve and is a player we should really be looking at this summer as we continue to build. What is clear though, is that Vieira has them playing as a collective unit and, despite their season being done, they’ll be no pushovers for us.

However, St James’ Park will be bouncing once again this midweek. I saw a superb picture on social media that showed Lascelles, Fernandez, Darlow and Ritchie celebrating Bruno’s late, late show like it was the winner in the cup final! You’ve got to love how Eddie has galvanised a squad who were so used to losing into a determined group who are all pulling in the same direction.

I wanted to take this opportunity to mention a few players who look resurgent under Eddie Howe. I’ll start with Emil Krafth, who very few would have selected ahead of Javier Manquillio in place of the crocked Kieran Trippier. I think he’s done a superb job and has barely put a foot wrong in the last couple of games. Fabian Schär and BDB have got a great understanding together, and I’d dearly love Fab to sign a new contract. Miggy Almirón has come under fire for his lack of end product in the last couple of seasons, but I was really impressed with him against Leicester and hope he retains his place on Wednesday. He’s like Marmite in the North East, and my pals and I have had many a conversation over a few beers on whether he’s good enough for us.

Will be see any squad rotation for Wednesday? It’s difficult to say, but we do know that Howe loves to stick by a winning side, so I think he may go same again.

Onto my prediction. Having got my 2-1 bang on against Leicester, I’m going same again. 2-1 Toon with Wood and ASM getting the goals.

Howay the Toon and enjoy the game lads and lasses 

Paul Karter – @peekeekay