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October 27 2020 2.51pm

Player ratings: Newcastle v Palace

October 22 2017

Julian Speroni

Julian Speroni

A sickening late goal gave Newcastle all the points in a 1-0 defeat. Mike Scott rates the Crystal Palace players in a game they were unlucky to lose...

After Frank de Boer’s sacking and the prospect of three games against the two Manchester clubs and the reigning champions to come, a month ago many Palace fans had this Newcastle game down as the real start of the Eagles’ season.

Luckily, with the points duck broken last week, this extremely frustrating narrow loss wasn’t the club’s ninth consecutive league defeat this season...

Julian Speroni - 7

Roy Hodgson had no choice but to keep Speroni in the starting XI after the Chelsea result, even with the news that Wayne Hennessey is fit and back ready to go. He didn’t have a great deal to do for the vast majority of the game, apart from a long distance effort in the first half that he dived for and caught well. For the goal, he was desperately unlucky, with the ricochet header from Mikel Merino landing out of reach above him. Other than a couple of stray long balls, another decent game.

Joel Ward - 7

Perhaps the first time this season that Ward was announced in the XI at 2pm and there wasn’t widespread social media hysteria. He had another solid game, looking much more assured than he has in a long time. Whether that is due to Speroni behind him, or Scott Dann and Mamadou Sakho next to him (or a combination of the two), he looked less rushed on the ball and made some important challenges when off it. Timothy Fosu-Mensah will have his work cut out to win his place back.

Mamadou Sakho - 7

As alluded to on the Holmesdale Radio review show last week, one of the reasons Liverpool didn’t want to keep Sakho was his occasional ‘rush of blood to the head’. Their loss, Palace’s gain. While he does put himself in some risky situations, he almost always cooly plays his way out of them. And what he does do well is instil confidence. In everyone. His teammates. Us as fans. Some excellent clearance headers underline just how unlucky Palace were to eventually concede, because he kept move danger at bay.

Scott Dann - 8

Another 90 minutes' experience for the Dann/Sakho combination and it’s beginning to look like James Tomkins will have a big job on his hands to win back his place. Dann was criticised for being too passive and too quiet during the darker times in matches earlier in the season; he seems to have found his voice in front of Speroni. Rarely tested for pace, he looked comfortable with Newcastle’s ‘toss it in and hope’ tactics.

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Patrick Van Aanholt - 6

For the second game in succession, Van Aanholt was handed a golden opportunity for a late goal. For the second game in a row, he didn’t manage to convert, this time finding himself inches away from a beautiful Ruben Loftus-Cheek cross. He looked less troubled than against Chelsea, although he was tested by a team playing more to his strengths. The slow movement forward meant he wasn’t caught out positionally in anything like the same way.

Luka Milivojevic - 7

Milivojevic is certainly back to doing what he does best for Palace. While there is a new air of calm around the back four and the keeper, the Serbian helped ensure they weren’t overworked either. In a game where the vast majority of play was a midfield stalemate, he neutralised so much of Newcastle’s creative play. Countless tackles and a fair few interceptions played a big part in frustrating thousands of Toon fans. It’s just a shame they scored to ruin it.

Yohan Cabaye - 6

There’s no doubt that, in a bad tempered game, the Frenchman pulled off the worst challenge, although despite thousands of angry North Eastern shouts, he stayed on the pitch. There’s also no doubt he was the pantomime villain, getting booed with every touch. But he seemed to really enjoy the notoriety, even smiling at the abuse as he took a corner. As it happens, his impact was limited, including some ineffectual set pieces. Was unlucky not to be on the end of a couple of crosses, which shows he much he is getting forward to support the front men.

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Jeffrey Schlupp - 7

Schlupp was given a fairly fluid role against Chelsea and Hodgson seemed to enjoy the experiment enough to repeat the plan for the second week in a row. Early on, it seemed to be paying dividends, with Schlupp unlucky not to find himself on the end of a Zaha cross that was marginally behind him. Too often he was the only man up in support for crosses. The home side barely broke with much speed, giving him plenty of time to find his position to stop too much coming down his flank.

James McArthur - 6

An almost talismanic display of athleticism against Chelsea keep McArthur in the starting XI, but he failed to have the same impact this time around. There was limited link up play with Townsend and Zaha and he didn’t find himself in the kind of promising positions he did against the champions. Credit has to be given to Newcastle’s solid midfield play for keeping him quiet. Unlucky with the goal, seemingly heading it onto Mikel Merino to allow him to head it home. Subbed straight after for Bakary Sako (5), who had little time to do much of note.

Andros Townsend - 7

Booed by the crowd from the first minute to the last, Townsend was unable to answer with the moment of magic he clearly craved to allow Palace to grab a goal. He found himself with a little less of the ball than most other games this season, although did get round the back of the defence a few times in the first half hour. He set up Wilfried Zaha for one of Palace’s finest chances of the game, but sadly he couldn’t convert.

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Wilfried Zaha - 7

Zaha showed glimpses of the man-of-the-match performance against Chelsea, but found his job a lot tougher. Seemingly playing slightly wider this time around, he produced a couple of moments of promise in the first half, including a move in which he just misplaced the final pass to Schlupp when he had run into a beautiful position. Was unlucky with the header from Townsend’s cross. Looked tired towards the end and was substituted for Ruben Loftus-Cheek (8), who surely did enough to start against West Ham next week. Produced a beautiful run and cross than Van Aanholt missed connecting with by half a yard, inches from the far post.

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