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Newcastle United 0 Crystal Palace 1 | Talking Points

Crystal Palace performed a snatch and grab operation, as they took all three points back down south after beating Newcastle United by a solitary goal, essentially sealing Premier League survival in the process.

It only looked a matter of when, not if, Newcastle would finally break the deadlock as they peppered the away goal with shot after shot, but it was the visitors who scored with their only shot on target.

The goal came in the 81st minute when Wilfried Zaha burst into the Toon penalty box and fell to the ground under pressure from DeAndre Yedlin. Consummate spot-kick taker Luka Milivojević converted the chance, and the result was never in doubt as he sent Martin Dúbravka diving the wrong way.

The game was overshadowed by the injury sustained by Newcastle centre-back Florian Lejeune after the Frenchman came off worse in an attempted tackle on Andros Townsend. He was left on the floor clutching his leg, before being stretchered off and taken to hospital for scans.

It could have been different for Lejeune and Newcastle, had his thumping header from a Matt Ritchie corner earlier in the half had gone either side of Vincente Guaita instead of straight at the Palace keeper. Salomon Rondon was one of the most involved players in the game, especially in attack having contributed to half of the home side’s attempts on goal.

However, with the Tyneside club unable to extend their winning run at St. James’ Park to a sixth straight game, and Burnley’s victory over Bournemouth on the south coast, they now find themselves in 15th place. Fortunately for them, they are still seven points clear of Cardiff City in 18th, and even though the Welsh club have a game in hand, Newcastle’s run to the end of the season should see them get the necessary points to secure a place in the top flight next season.

Palace in search of a top half finish?

Whereas the host fell closer to the drop zone, and may still be sweating for a couple more weeks, Palace all but cemented their place in the Premier League for a seventh consecutive season. Roy Hodgson’s side find themselves now in 12th place and closer to Leicester City in 7th than Cardiff City in 18th. Although they are not yet mathematically certain of survival, with 15 points still available for most teams below them (18 for Cardiff, and 21 for Brighton), but with the form they are in and the points being dropped by clubs below them, it could be time for the Eagles to finally look up the league.

They may have played an extra game relative to most teams above them, but with West Ham United only three points ahead, and having to face fixtures against Chelsea – who could be amazing or atrocious on Monday – and Manchester United, Palace could progress up the table. Of course, it would mean doing the league double over champions Manchester City, but there’s a chance. The Eagles face Everton at the end of April, the side who currently sit in 10th spot, and by then they could be within a shot of reaching the top half of the table.

Injustice-on-Tyneside?

Newcastle have been the form team in terms of games at home in recently, having won all of the five previous fixtures before Crystal Palace. Notching up wins against Cardiff City, Manchester City, Huddersfield Town, Burnley, and Everton, scoring twelve in the process and only conceding three. For most of the match it looked like they would be adding the Eagles to that list, as they rattled in 18 shots at Vincente Guaita’s goal, but fortunately for the Palace keeper, only five of them were on target. The game appeared even more destined for a Newcastle win, as Palace had not got a victory at St. James’ Park in their last eight visits, losing six of them.

On the other hand, the home side only faced three shots in total from their visitors, which is the lowest number by a team that has gone on to win in the league this season. Only one of those shots was on target, Milivojevicć from 12-yards, which invariably ended up beating Dubravka. So, Newcastle could see themselves as hard done by, as if it wasn’t for Guaita in goal, then they would have eased to victory, and moved ten points clear of danger.

Palace Penalty Record-Breakers?

Another week results in another penalty for Crystal Palace. The Eagles have now had eleven penalties awarded this season, more than any other team in the league, one clear of Manchester United. It was like Ground Hog Day, with the tried and tested process in which Palace win penalties. Wilfried Zaha ran into the opposition box; the ball danced between his feet as he tricked his way past defenders only to be brought down. Captain Luka Milivojević stepped up and slotted the ball home with confidence.

It is not the first time that Palace have been leaders in the charts for winning penalties, having also topped last season’s table with ten. It is not even the only time they’ve had eleven penalties, having been awarded the same amount back in the 2004/05 season. In fact, since Palace gained promotion back to the top flight in 2013, they have not finished outside of the top five for penalties awarded. They finished 4th with six penalties in back-to-back seasons, 2013/14 and 2014/15, and then 5th in the next two seasons with five and seven spot-kicks respectively.

In terms of a place in the record books for penalties awarded in a single Premier League season, Palace are only a couple away from breaking it. Having had their 11th spot-kick awarded today, it leaves them just one behind Arsenal (06/07), Chelsea (09/10), and Liverpool (13/14), and only two behind record holders Leicester City (15/16) in the season when they became champions.

Important Defensive Injuries

For a game that looked destined to go the distance remaining 0-0, the big concerns coming out of the game would have been the injuries to central defenders James Tomkins and Florian Lejeune, the latter of which looked incredibly painful. The Frenchman was stretchered off in the 65th minute after suffering a knee injury that manager Rafa Benitez said “seems bad”. Lejeune is no stranger to serious knee injuries, after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in preseason, and having to wait nearly five months before making his return against Chelsea in January. Thankfully it is the other leg to the one he injured in preseason, but how that will affect his recovery is unknown.

Tomkins managed to leave the pitch under his own power in the 73rd minute after he pulled up holding his groin. If it is another lengthy injury like Lejeune’s, then that would leave Palace having to scrape together reinforcements for their back line. With Mamadou Sakho already out, it would leave Martin Kelly and Scott Dann as their only fit centre-backs, and with five games left to play, including Manchester City and Arsenal as the next two, it will be a hard ask for those two to get through without backup.

Home wins masking Toon form?

A lot has been made of Newcastle’s recent home record, and winning five straight games is nothing to be scoffed at. However, even with those 15 points banked, they are still only seven points clear of the drop zone. It is when you look at their away form you understand why they are in this position. They have failed to get a win in any of their last eight away fixtures, only managing to collect four points from the twenty-four on offer. In fact, they have just got one win in addition to those five in the last twenty games, home and away.

Now, looking at that winless series of away fixtures in more detail, it can hardly be surprising when you look at some of the teams they were playing; Liverpool (4-0), Chelsea (2-1), Tottenham Hotspur (1-0), and Arsenal (2-0). Newcastle would be expected to come up on the short end in games against these sides, it will be the 0-0 draw at home to Fulham, and suffering a league double of defeats against West Ham that sting more. However, the only side from the top six they have left to face is Liverpool on the penultimate weekend of the season, so with winnable fixtures against the likes of Southampton and Fulham remaining, the Geordie fans should be singing songs of survival come May.

Migtavius

A Crystal Palace fan in my 30's, I co-host a podcast about Fantasy Premier League (FPL) with YouTuber Nymfria.

Can easily contact me on Twitter, where I'm normally posting somethings about some stuff.

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Premier League Table

# Team MP W D L P
1 Arsenal 19 16 2 1 50
2 Manchester City 20 14 3 3 45
3 Newcastle United 20 10 9 1 39
4 Manchester United 20 12 3 5 39
5 Tottenham Hotspur 21 11 3 7 36
6 Fulham 22 9 5 8 32
7 Brighton & Hov… 19 9 4 6 31
8 Brentford 20 7 9 4 30
9 Chelsea 21 8 6 7 30
10 Liverpool 19 8 5 6 29
11 Aston Villa 20 8 4 8 28
12 Crystal Palace 20 6 6 8 24
13 Nottingham Forest 20 5 6 9 21
14 Leicester City 20 5 3 12 18
15 Leeds United 19 4 6 9 18
16 West Ham United 20 5 3 12 18
17 Wolverhampton Wanderers 20 4 5 11 17
18 AFC Bournemouth 20 4 5 11 17
19 Everton 20 3 6 11 15
20 Southampton 20 4 3 13 15

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