Crystal Palace 


St James’ Park

Tuesday 2nd February 2021, 8.15pm

Live on BT Sports (with the superb Jake Humphrey. Top lad.)

Tuesday evening sees another quick Premiership turnaround as elderly Panto Dame, Roy Hodgson brings his erratic Eagles to Barrack Road. It’s now set up to be a battle of minds between an old master and the new Geordie kid on the block; wor Graeme. 

Our visitors have had a season rather in keeping with the strange campaign we’re all witnessing. They’ve been pretty av for a lot of the time, with their negative pièce de résistance thus far being a 0-7 home humbling by the Champions back in December. They are however, a resilient bunch. There’s no room for feeling sorry for yourself at Selhurst Park, and despite a pretty torrid January, they will arrive at Gallowgate 4 points ahead of us following a deserved home win versus Wolves. 

Like most Premiership sides, the Eagles possess a few stand out performers. Despite spending most recent games v Newcastle either on his backside or trying to ref the contest, Wilfried Zaha remains a serious threat. I’m a big Jordan Ayew fan, and the latest jewel in their crown appears to be Eberechi Eze. This is a young man with great potential, a playing style not dissimilar to our own St Max, and someone who’s now added a few Premiership goals to his CV. His two recent notches were firstly a sublime individual effort v Sheffield United just before Christmas, and then Saturday’s thunder strike which won the day.  He’ll certainly need watching at SJP. 

Onto the Mags……  I normally dread this bit; trying to be nice about them usually feels like polishing a turd, but on this particular occasion it should be a bit more fun. Scenty Steve will emerge blinking into the floodlit night, no doubt buoyed by Saturday’s performance & result on Merseyside. It followed a week where literally dozens of supportive letters were sent telling him what a clever cabbage he is. I’m told his son, Alex’s missive was particularly touching. And don’t get him started on Jamie Redknapp’s crayoned effort. Joined up writing, drawings – the lot. 

Howay. Who writes fucking letters these days? The old fraud. 

The major talking point this week on Tyneside has been the ‘Jones effect.’  Our new ‘coach’ certainly appears to be more than just one of the plethora of stern faced Steve’s. Despite The Telegraph’s Luke Snow telling anyone who’ll listen that the sudden front foot football witnessed in the second half v Leeds and throughout all of Saturday’s match on Merseyside is all down to his dad, it does seem a touch coincidental that these tactics were employed just as wor Graeme arrived on the scene. Someone I know who works ‘cheek by jowl’ with all the characters mentioned above told me on Saturday evening that there’s an ‘intriguing dynamic developing.’  As Wraithy’s pal Liam often says….. ‘join the dots!’ 

Saturday’s win at Goodison was as unexpected as it was welcome, and we should be going into this one with a lot more confidence.  After a year and a half, Bruce has rarely shown the understanding or inclination to attempt attacking the opposition. However, we saw in 90 minutes on Saturday that we’re more than capable of giving it a go. 

You’d like to think that the formation will be similar v Palace, and that we can get ourselves pressing 30 yards further up the field like v Everton.  The players look like they’ve been let off a leash, and it clearly needs to continue if we’re to escape the clarts just below us. 

A number of our more attacking players looked more comfortable on Merseyside, but the performance of our main man, Callum needs praising most. He admitted himself that he should’ve scored more, but he still bagged a brace, and gave the Everton defence a torrid lunchtime.  He’s the real deal, and hopefully we’ll see him now get the service he deserves. 

Prediction poser. 

I’ve a feeling this will be a more open and entertaining game than we’ve been used to in recent years, as most of the NUFC/Palace games have been duller than a lockdown weekend with Dr Whitty. It’ll no doubt be tight as well, but (shock of shocks) I think we might nick this one. I feel all a flutter just writing such measured confidence, but we should come bouncing into this one. I think we’ll see more of ASM and I’m gonna go 2-1 to the Mighty Mags. Make it so, Steve. I mean, Graeme. 


Nick Clark