Mark Lawrenson “That is why Newcastle United are where they are…”
Mark Lawrenson says that at least one saving grace for Newcastle United is that they did manage to bring in some new players last month, even if Rafa was limited to only loan deals.
The BBC Sport pundit says that Kenedy and Slimani are better than what Newcastle already have – but that isn’t saying much…
Despite currently only one place in the table and two points separating the two clubs, Mark Lawrenson thinks there is a massive gulf in quality when comparing the two squads.
Difficult to argue with that really as Rafa Benitez has done minor miracles with the players he has, with Mike Ashley failing to back his manager with quality.
This does look a pivotal match in many ways, as a win for Palace would see them move onto 29 points and five ahead of Newcastle, opening up a gap to the current bottom seven, or certainly the bottom three.
A win for Newcastle would be massive of course, especially after throwing away the victory against Burnley, a draw though would at least keep Newcastle creeping up and Palace still right in the middle of a relegation struggle.
Mark Lawrenson picks out the likes of Townsend and Zaha as dangers and Christian Benteke scored only his second Premier League goal of the season in the midweek draw at West Ham.
When clubs like Palace have a striker who they bought for around double the amount that Newcastle’s 13 year transfer record is, it is a sobering thought.
Benteke looked back to form last season when scoring 15 Premier League goals and Lawrenson thinks after that second goal of this season he could be about to go on a ‘scoring streak’.
Newcastle could do with someone going on one of those, Joselu top scorer with only four goals and reminding us yet again on Wednesday just what you get when you pay £5m for your first choice striker, a lot of hard work but very few goals. You can argue £30m Benteke doesn’t guarantee goals either but then no forward does – but at some point Newcastle/Ashley have to move into the real world and pay the going rate for somebody who can potentially score goals based on a past pedigree.
Islam Slimani could potentially do that in the short-term but typical for us, he arrives with a thigh injury. Said to have an outside chance of making the bench on Sunday but more likely aimed at the Man Utd game a week later.
Mark Lawrenson predicts a comfortable 2-0 home victory but whilst things aren’t great up front, with Lascelles organising at the back, Newcastle have become hard to beat recently when playing the lower teams.
Slimani will hopefully provide a cutting edge in games to come but once again on Sunday, we will be looking more for Rafa’s powers of discipline and organisation to grind out a win.
Kenedy showed on Wednesday night that he has already added a bit of a spark, with also an eye for goal after that stunner struck the post, a perfect time to score his first Newcastle goal at Selhurst Park.
Mark Lawrenson speaking to BBC Sport:
“Newcastle managed to make some signings at the end of the transfer window, including Leicester forward Islam Slimani and Chelsea winger Kenedy – who are both better than what they had.
“But you only have to look at the difference between Crystal Palace’s squad and what the Magpies have got to see the difference between the sides.
“Christian Benteke got the Eagles’ goal in their 1-1 draw with West Ham on Tuesday and I just wonder if he is going to go on a scoring streak now – he is the kind of confidence player who does that.
“Newcastle do not have a striker of his calibre to lead their line, or game-changers like Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend or, when he is fit, Jason Puncheon.
“That is why the Magpies are where they are, a point above the relegation zone.
“Palace are only one place above them but I think they will run out pretty comfortable winners.
“Prediction is Crystal Palace 2 Newcastle 0.”
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