Both Newcastle United and Crystal Palace are missing key defenders, and Kevin Hatchard believes that will lead to a lively contest.
"Both teams have found the net in Newcastle's last four home games, while Palace have scored at least twice in six of their last ten Premier League away matches."
Newcastle United v Crystal Palace
Saturday 21 December, 15:00
Bruce winning over his doubters
Football can be a brutal and unforgiving business, and it must've stung Newcastle boss Steve Bruce to know that he was an unpopular choice to take the role at St James's Park. A mix of anger at the loss of the incredibly popular and talented Rafa Benitez was mixed with scepticism about Bruce's ability to keep the Magpies in the top flight, and alarm about the way he discarded his previous club Sheffield Wednesday. This is Bruce's dream job, having supported the club since he was a boy.
That dream role looked to be turning into a nightmare in the early weeks of the season, but NUFC have racked up 22 points from 17 games, and are well over halfway to their survival target. A seven-match unbeaten run at home has showcased the improvements made, and it's worth noting that on home soil, Newcastle have beaten Manchester United and drawn with Manchester City.
Bruce has managed to instil a fighting spirit in his charges. In their last three Premier League home games, the Magpies have recovered from a deficit to beat Bournemouth and Southampton, and to draw with the champions of England. On the road, there have been eye-catching wins at West Ham and Sheffield United.
Bruce does have some injury headaches ahead of the clash with Crystal Palace. Midfield string-puller Jonjo Shelvey missed the defeat at Burnley, and has been battling a muscle injury, so may have to play through the pain barrier. Miguel Almiron is also struggling, while defender Jamaal Lascelles and wingers Allan Saint-Maximin and Matt Ritchie are all sidelined.
Hodgson steering Palace to calm waters again
Roy Hodgson is sometimes a manager that divides opinion, but the majority of clubs and nations he has worked for in a long and distinguished career regard him fondly. His high-profile struggles with Liverpool and England sometimes obscure the terrific work he's done elsewhere, an example of which is the way he resurrected his beloved Crystal Palace.
Hodgson sifted through the wreckage of the Frank de Boer era, and Palace are on course to yet again secure their Premier League status. A run of two wins and two draws from the last four games has taken them onto a healthy points tally of 23. Given that Hodgson is currently without a clutch of players, that's an impressive achievement.
Palace's away record is remarkable for a club of their means. They have won ten of their last 18 road matches in the top flight, a statistic that a club chasing the top four would be proud of. To put that record into context, Chelsea have won eight of their last 18 away games in the PL, Arsenal have won five, Tottenham have won five and Manchester United have won eight.
Mamadou Sakho is still suspended, while Jeffrey Schlupp, Patrick van Aanholt and Gary Cahill are all injured.
Palace provide value in tight call
Newcastle are unbeaten in seven at home, while Palace have lost just one of their last five on the road. Both teams are struggling with injuries, so this is a tough one to assess, but backing Crystal Palace Draw No Bet at 2.3411/8 gives you your stake back if the match is drawn.
BTTS offers chance of an odds-against winner
Both teams are missing key defenders because of injury, and I can see both teams finding the net here. Palace have scored at least twice in six of their last ten Premier League away matches, while Newcastle have seen both teams find the net in their last four home matches.
You can back Both Teams To Score at 2.111/10, and I think that's the way to go.
Zaha to work his wizardry again?
Wilfried Zaha produced a moment of magic to secure a 1-1 draw against Brighton on Monday, and he has now scored in three of his last five Premier League matches. He's trading at 4.57/2 to score at any time, and his form makes that an attractive play.
Kevin Hatchard 2019-20 Premier League P/L
Points Staked: 28
Points Returned: 22.89
P/L: -5.11 points
Back Both Teams To Score at 2.111/10
Back Wilfried Zaha to score at 4.57/2