Michael Owen has been speaking ahead of Saturday’s match at Selhurst Park.
Newcastle took the lead last season through Diame in this fixture last season and were the better team first, only to then concede and end up hanging on for a point.
So far this season, Newcastle have never managed a decent 90 minutes. They did well in the first half against Arsenal and the second half at home to Spurs – but are finding the complete performance beyond them so far.
Michael Owen acknowledges the tough set of opening fixtures though and says that we will have to ‘wait at least another month’ before you can have a decent idea of how Rafa’s team are going to do this season.
The next 13 matches see Newcastle only play one match where you’d have to realistically say there is almost zero chance of getting anything, the away game at Man Utd on 6 October.
However, the other 12 before Liverpool away on Boxing Day, are all against teams who didn’t finish in the PL top six last season and matches in which Newcastle should go into them believing they can come away with at least a point.
Michael Owen fancies Newcastle to add one more point to their total in a low scoring draw at Palace, which would be a half-decent outcome.
However, he also has a warning for Newcastle ahead of the game – Wilfried Zaha.
By far Palace’s best player, the winger is their most productive, having scored three of their four goals so far this season, however, he has also picked up three bookings already.
Wilfried Zaha after the Huddersfield game, where he scored the winner and picked up another booking:
“I feel like before anyone gets a red, I’d have to get my leg broken or something. That’s why I lose my head.
“Some of the yellow cards, against Watford, the guy stood on the back of my calf and still a yellow card. It’s like, ‘why am I getting different treatment to other players?’
“I just don’t understand it and it’s every week, every referee.
“It’s hard because obviously, it doesn’t make you want to go on a run because you feel like someone will come through the back of you or do whatever and you will get injured.
“It doesn’t allow you to express yourself the way you normally want to express yourself, that’s a difficulty but obviously at the same time I have to let my feet talk as well.”
The last thing Newcastle needed was Saturday’s match officials put on warning that the Palace star isn’t getting enough protection.
Michael Owen points out that since the start of the 2016/17 season, there have been 41 yellow cards due to fouls on Zaha, more than on any other player.
In that same time period, Wilfried Zaha has started 66 Premier League matches, scoring 19 goals and getting 12 assists.
So on average the Palace player scores or makes a goal every other game, whilst on average a player is booked two in every three matches for fouling him. As for being booked himself, Zaha has 16 yellows in those 66 PL starts, averaging around once every four matches, not great for a winger and of course many of them have been for diving.
I think the message is clear, if Newcastle can emerge from Saturday’s match having stopped Zaha scoring or making a goal, as well as hopefully no bookings, then there is every chance of a positive result.
As for Newcastle, the closest we have to a game changer is Kenedy and if selected, he has to do far far better than we have seen so far this season.
Michael Owen talking to BetVictor:
“Since the start of the 2016-17 season fouls on Wilfried Zaha have resulted in 41 yellow cards – more than any other player in the PL.
“You could see and feel his frustration coming through the television when he spoke after last weekend’s Huddersfield game.
“The Ivorian has scored three of the Eagles’ four PL goals so far this term and Roy Hodgson needs goals from other avenues.
“The stats suggest if you stop Zaha you stop Palace.
“The former Manchester United wide-man cum striker missed the home game with Southampton this season – the result a 2-0 loss.
“Newcastle have played four of the “big six” clubs already this season and lost each game narrowly 2-1.
“I feel the time to assess United and their season-long prospects and expectations will not be for at least another month and I feel they can take a hard-earned point at Selhurst Park in a low-scoring contest.
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