Newcastle United arrived at Selhurst Park on the back of consecutive defeats, the defeats were concerning because the performances against Southampton and Chelsea were abject. This filled supporters with little hope as Steve Bruce's side travelled to the capital. Meetings between Newcastle and Crystal Palace in the main, have been tight and cagey affairs with very little to get excited about. An ideal game to be featured on Amazon Prime on a Friday night. Bruce made four changes from the defeat to Chelsea, Jonjo Shelvey, Jeff Hendrick, Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson came into the side. It meant Joelinton would partner the returning Wilson up front. Newcastle had Karl Darlow to thank once again for a string of fine saves throughout the game as Crystal Palace searched for an opening goal. The majority of Newcastle's chances fell to their number 9, Joelinton. Apart from a couple of tame efforts that were never really going to trouble Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal, it was the home side that had the better chances.
When Newcastle bought Wilson for £20M in the summer from Bournemouth, the feeling was they had finally got a natural goalscorer, a striker who when through on goal fills you with confidence that he'll hit the back of the net. Before Wilson lined up against Palace he had notched six goals and 1 assist, he had already matched Shelvey's tally from last season who was Newcastle's top scorer in the league. At £20M in todays market, it's a bargain. Newcastle huffed and puffed without really getting out of first gear, a troubling sign for a side who had suffered consecutive defeats. However, it was Wilson who finally opened the scoring in the closing stages after some great work from Joelinton. The Brazilian bundled his way forward before producing a brilliant reverse ball to set Wilson through on goal. The former Bournemouth striker, made no mistake with the finish, guiding the ball through Guaita's legs to make it 0-1.
Credit: The Guardian
Two minutes after Wilson's opener, the roles were reversed. Newcastle's number 13 found Joelinton who jinked in the box before his deflected shot gave Guaita no chance, 0-2 and three points wrapped up. It felt like a smash and grab, traditionally Newcastle would go on to lose this kind of game. Despite the victory, there are still huge improvements to be made by Bruce. Hendrick's inclusion in the side must be questioned after the Irishman managed just 31 touches throughout the whole game. What exactly does he offer? Similar to the signing of Nabil Bentaleb in January, who also offered very little. Newcastle desperately need some energy in the middle of their midfield, surely it's only a matter of time before we see Matty Longstaff line up alongside his brother, Sean. That would at least give Newcastle more bite in midfield.
Newcastle travel to Aston Villa on Friday before hosting West Brom at St James' Park. Two favourable fixtures, it is over the next run of games that we get a greater understanding of where Newcastle could finish in the table. If the Magpies struggle against teams such as West Brom and Fulham, they will get dragged into the relegation scrap.