Crystal Palace-Newcastle United Preview
The last five times Newcastle United have scored a goal, they've won. The problem with that formula is that to find five matches in which they've scored, you'll have to look through three months of Premier League results.
Another shot at a club near the relegation zone could help fix the attacking woes Saturday as the Magpies welcome Crystal Palace to St. James' Park, though the home side will be without top scorer Loic Remy. That's an obstacle they haven't been able to overcome all season.
After winning consecutive matches, Newcastle (13-4-12) returned to their trend of struggling to finish in Saturday's 1-0 loss to bottom-of-the-table Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Banned manager Alan Pardew, a former Palace player, wasn't displeased with his side's form against Fulham and expects a desperate effort out of the Eagles.
"They will be fighting and scrapping, and (manager Tony Pulis') teams are always very, very sure in terms of their jobs, and we need to come up with some more imagination than we did against Fulham, and some more cutting edge to our play," Pardew told the club's official website. "Most of our play was pretty good against Fulham, but the last third, unfortunately, wasn't good enough."
It was the eighth time they've failed to score in their last 11 Premier League matches. It also dropped Newcastle to 0-1-5 in matches without Remy, in which they've conceded 15 goals and scored none.
Remy, one of six top-flight players with 13 goals or more, will miss the match due to a calf injury. Newcastle will also be without defender Mathieu Debuchy because of an ailing groin, but they expect winger Hatem Ben Arfa back after missing the last three games with a groin injury.
"He's back into the squad and he looked a bit sharper and brighter, which is good news for us," Pardew said of the French midfielder.
While scoring against Palace might be an issue, containing the Eagles could prove less difficult.
Palace have scored a league-low six goals in away fixtures. Further, Newcastle haven't conceded in their last five matches against Palace, a 4-1-0 span that dates to 2004 and includes matches from both the Premier League and Championship.
The first meeting this season resulted in a 3-0 Newcastle victory at Selhurst Park with Ben Arfa coming on as a substitute and converting a penalty in the 86th minute.
The Magpies now find themselves in ninth on the table with 43 points while Palace (8-4-17) are fighting for safety with 28 points and nine matches remaining.
With two points in their last four contests, the Eagles haven't done much to distance themselves and missed a chance to do so in Saturday's 0-0 draw with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
"This was a must not lose game for us," Pulis told the club's official website. "In the last two away games we have picked up a point at each, we haven't got the quality that other clubs have got but we have a game plan and we have to work to that."
Winless in their last four, the Eagles will need to find some quality if they hope to end that streak within the month of March. After the Newcastle trip, Palace return home to face league leaders Chelsea.