Crystal Palace travel to Newcastle this weekend in buoyant mood following their first goals and points of the campaign, and Paul Robinson believes that they will be able to avoid defeat at St James' Park...
"Avoiding defeat will be his main focus at St James’ Park as he knows that his team have three winnable home games coming up from their next four outings."
Newcastle v Crystal Palace
Saturday 21 October, 15:00 BST
Benitez and Ashley both heading for the exit?
The Magpies are more than holding their own since their return to the top flight as after a bumpy start that saw them lose their two opening games, they have since gone on to win three, draw two and lose just one of their next six.
Despite those results, things still don't appear to be quite as rosy as they could be behind the scenes as Rafa Benitez has once again been linked with another job - Everton this time - and owner, Mike Ashley, has officially announced that the club is up for sale.
The other concern for Newcastle is that they are lacking an in-form, out and out goalscorer. Last year's leading marksman, Dwight Gayle, is yet to hit the heights in the Premier League - although there are some mitigating circumstances - and their top scorers this season are both Joselu and defender, Jamal Lascelles, who have two apiece.
As for the team news, the aforementioned, Gayle, is a doubt for the clash against his former club due to a calf injury, which means Joselu will continue as the lone striker, with Ayoze Perez in behind. In midfield, Mikel Merino could return at the expense of Isaac Hayden, and Ciaran Clark could also earn a recall in central defence.
Hodgson silences his critics
The rot was stopped in some style for Crystal Palace last weekend as after seven games without a point or even a goal, they turned over the reigning champions, making sure that Selhurst Park was glad all over by 5pm.
Staying up must have seemed like a long-shot for Palace this time last week but unbelievably, they are just two victories from safety and they could climb off the bottom with a win at St James'.
Wilfried Zaha appeared to make the difference for Roy Hodgson's men as the pacey winger returned to the side following injury. Even without Christian Benteke to feed, the Eagles managed to score twice, and it was Zaha who got the winner.
Hodgson has an interesting choice to make between the sticks as Wayne Hennessey is available again, but he's had a torrid time of things recently and Julian Speroni is a firm favourite with the fans. It will also be interesting to see if Ruben Loftus-Cheek can force his way back into the team after being ineligible to play against his parent club last weekend.
Winless streak to continue for Newcastle
The hosts are practically even money at the 2.021/1 mark but despite their steady climb into the top half of the table, they have now gone three games without a win.
A 1-0 defeat at Brighton was followed by a 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool and a 2-2 draw at St Mary's last time out. Even at St James' Park they only have a win percentage of 50% this term and they have kept just the one clean sheet in front of their own fans.
Those who think the visitors will make it two wins from two can get 4.3100/30 for the away win and it's worth noting that six of Palace's dozen victories last season came on their travels.
I'm more inclined to back the draw at 3.55 though as Roy Hodgson is the kind of manager who will be happy to take a point from this game and keep the momentum going. Avoiding defeat will be his main focus at St James' Park as he knows that his team have three winnable home games coming up from their next four outings.
A final argument for the draw is that the two sides have managed 11 goals between them this season, and low-scoring teams tend to have more draws.
Eagles to take it easy in the attacking third
On that very theme, Under 2.5 Goals at around the 1.834/5 mark seems like excellent value to me. As mentioned above, Palace aren't going to go out all guns blazing and they will be more than happy with a 0-0.
Half of their matches have already ended with two goals or fewer being scored and they haven't found the net in any of their last six Premier League away games.
Newcastle's matches are averaging 2.13 goals each time and five of their eight have seen unders backers collect. I very much doubt that Benitez will be overly concerned by the Palace attack and it would make sense if his defence doubled up on Zaha to keep him quiet. This is backed up by the Opta stat that since the start of last season, no Crystal Palace player has been directly involved in more goals in the Premier League than Wilfried Zaha (eight goals, nine assists).
At the other end, they simply don't have the firepower at present to make me think that them scoring three goals is that likely, and while they managed it against West Ham here back in August, the Hammers were woeful on the day.
For those who disagree, Over 2.5 is trading at 2.1411/10, but I really can't see it myself.
Stuart Attwell has been appointed as the official for this fixture and he comes into the game having handed out his first red card of the campaign at Turf Moor last weekend.
He has previously been in charge of three top flight matches this season and he's averaging 3.33 bookings per 90 minutes. That could increase this weekend as Newcastle have already received 16 cautions this year - with Matt Ritchie just one away from a ban - as well as a red card for Jonjo Shelvey.
The Eagles are yet to have a man sent off, but their players have received 17 yellows thus far, with Jason Puncheon leading the way with four to his name.
Back The Draw @ 3.55
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.834/5
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2017/18 P/L (1pt each bet)