“Is it not an axiom of association football that Crystal Palace will always stay 12th?” says Vibhanshu Bisht. “Whenever I take a look at the middle of the table, they are always firmly ensconced in that spot. Even before, during and after the last game against Man United, they were never under threat of being moved from that position.”
It’s a good point. Since being promoted in 2013, they have finished between 10th and 15th every time. Some might wonder what the point is, but given how tough the Premier League can be for the have-nots, going nowhere for a decade is actually quite an achievement.
Eddie Howe speaks
Palace and Newcastle have already played out two goalless draws this season, one in the league and one in the Carabao Cup, and their last 13 meetings have produced a whopping 15 goals.
Wait, come back!
Patrick Vieira speaks
Classified results (Premier League department)
Crystal Palace will stay 12th whatever happens tonight. Newcastle, who start in fourth, will move above Manchester United if they draw.
The teams in (probable) formation
Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1) Guaita; Ward, Richards, Guehi, Mitchell; Doucoure, Schlupp; Ayew, Eze, Zaha; Edouard.
Substitutes: Johnstone, Clyne, Milivojevic, Olise, Hughes, Riedewald, Wells-Morrison, Ozoh, Mateta.
Newcastle (4-3-3) Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; Longstaff, Guimaraes, Willock; Almiron, Wilson, Joelinton.
Substitutes: Dubravka, Lascelles, Lewis, Manquillo, Ritchie, Murphy, Anderson, Saint-Maximin, Isak.
Referee Craig Pawson.
Michael Olise, who scored the equaliser against Man Utd on Wednesday, has been dropped/rotated. That’s one of four changes made by Patrick Vieira: Joel Ward, Jeff Schlupp, Eberechi Eze and Jordan Ayew replace Nathaniel Clyne, Will Hughes, Jean-Philippe Mateta and Olise.
Bruno Guimaraes is fit, so Newcastle are unchanged from the last Sunday’s victory over Fulham. Alexander Isak, who came off the bench to score the winner, remains among the substitutes.
A remarkable thing happened on 4 November 2022: Nick Pope conceded a goal. Since Romain Perraud’s late non-consolation for Southampton in a 4-1 defeat at St Mary’s, Pope has gone 721 minutes without being beaten. That’s 12 hours and one minute – enough time to watch an entire season of Succession, or listen to side one of a Flaming Lips album.
Right here, right now, Newcastle have the best defence in the Premier League. It’s quite an achievement – and quite a change in identity for a club whose previous Premier League success, under Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson, involved scoring as many goals as possible and the hell with clean sheets.
Crystal Palace have already ended one run this week, stopping Manchester United’s winning sequence at nine thanks to Michael Olise’s marvellous free-kick, and they’d love to do the same today – not just by scoring past Pope, but by stopping Newcastle from setting a new club record of 15 top-flight games without defeat.
Kick off 5.30pm.