Ahead of the game this afternoon, Match of The Day commentator Steve Wilson has been analysing the Crystal Palace v Newcastle match.

He says Rafa Benitez has ‘risked derision by concentrating on damage limitation in consecutive matches against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal’ and predicts another defensive outlook today.

The Match of The Day commentator saying that Rafa is unlikely to ‘unleash the hounds against Palace’ this afternoon.

Steve Wilson claims ‘Rafa is an arch-pragmatist; he understands the limitations of his armoury’ and believes the Newcastle manager will have stopping Wilfried Zaha as his main focus.

I don’t really agree, as I think Rafa will put out a more progressive team that will try and get decent control of the game, which will of course also help dilute Zaha’s influence, the more that Newcastle have the ball and are in the other side’s half.

Last season Newcastle were the better team first half and Kenedy and Perez wasted chances to send them in 2-0 up after Diame’s opener. Palace were on top after the break but only a disputed penalty got them a point, Zaha not having a great game.

Zaha is a decent player but I think people are getting a little carried away with him and I do think today’s game rests more on how Newcastle do in the attacking third.

Against similar level opposition, can Newcastle hurt the opposition and show they can create and score goals this season.

One stunning stat is that Newcastle have lost 72 Premier League matches in London, only Everton have lost more (73).

However, that stat is even worse for NUFC when you consider we have missed three years worth of PL capital defeats when in the Championship.

Everton don’t play Arsenal until Sunday at the Emirates, here’s hoping that NUFC haven’t made it 73 v 73 ahead of that game.

Match of The Day commentator’s notes:

Steve Wilson:

“Having risked derision by concentrating on damage limitation in consecutive matches against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal, will Rafa Benitez take off the handbrake and unleash the hounds against Palace?

“It’s not very likely.

“Rafa is an arch-pragmatist; he understands the limitations of his armoury and will no doubt focus on stopping Wilfried Zaha first, and worry about the rest later.

“Zaha’s contention that he is under-protected by referees created some debate last week.

“As Palace’s most likely match-winner – almost their only match-winner – he can hardly expect to go unmolested by defenders. But does he dive?

“Like most players with blistering pace, you may think that he has been prone to exaggeration on occasion.

“Whatever the truth, the spotlight will be on him – and referee Andre Marriner – on Saturday.”

Killer Facts:

Crystal Palace have won one and lost 10 of their last 15 matches in all competitions against Newcastle.

The Magpies have only failed to score in one of the 14 Premier League meetings.

Wilfried Zaha has scored eight times in 10 league appearances, as many goals as in his previous 44 matches.

Newcastle have one point from their opening five games, which is their joint-worst start to a Premier League campaign, alongside 1999-2000.

They have claimed just four points from the last 30 available to them.

Newcastle have lost 72 Premier League away fixtures in London; only Everton, with 73, have lost more.

Rafa Benitez has won three and lost only one of seven Premier League matches against Roy Hodgson.



  • Kenny

    Go at them & we will win

    • WildBill

      We should have won there last season. Bogus, ridiculous pen for them denied us. I think we’ll come away with something today.

  • Leicester Mag

    Difficult to unleash hounds when armed with a Jack Russell

    • Toontaff

      Those little angle biters are buggers!

  • mactoon

    Maybe Steve Wilson thinks we’re going to try and defend every game, that way we will end up with a possible 34 points. Great idea. Good grief

    • Toontaff

      And a good goal difference, say -38?

  • Kenny

    Rafa is doing the best he can with a limited squad.

    • mactoon

      He is and I don’t mind defending against Man City or Liverpool but against Chelsea who we beat 3-0 last season we should have been more adventurous and against most of the other teams we should give it a go. The same squad finished 10th last year so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t compete.

      • Kenny

        Chelsea in May had only the FA Cup Final in mind

        • Paul Patterson

          Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal were ‘on the beach’ when we played them last season . .

    • Wor Lass

      Yeah – Rafa`s choices are limited and so is his style of play. He doesn`t have the players to be very “progressive”, as jackie puts it, but having Jonjo available would make a massive difference in that department.

  • Wor Lass

    Jackie, I don`t think Rafa`s starting line-up today will be as much about changing the style of play as it will be about playing his best players. I don`t think our approach will change much (we were very much on the front foot against Arsenal in the first half and for spells against Spuds) but, hopefully, our ability to make and take chances will.