Newcastle United are meandering towards the end of the season after three successive losses in the Premier League.
It was a great achievement to clinch their Premier League survival with five matches to play, but Rafael Benitez will want to do much better during the 2018/19 campaign if he remains in the hot seat at St James’ Park.
There are discussions to be had with the board to make sure that he is given the assurances that he requires to continue the excellent job that he is doing.
One position that will be on the Spaniard’s agenda is a striker, as Islam Slimani has failed to impress during his loan spell and Dwight Gayle has only managed to score five Premier League goals.
There will be a number of players that are known to Benitez, but there is a current top-flight striker that looks to be a great fit for Newcastle United.
His contribution of three goals and five assists is underwhelming, but he has proven his ability in the past and at the age of 27, he has a number of years left at the highest level.
It was only last season when he managed to score 15 goals during his first campaign as a Palace player.
Strikers need confidence and the fact that the team suffered from a poor start may have negatively impacted on Benteke’s own form.
He has struggled to get back among the scorers and it could be that a move away this summer is what he needs to return to the player we have become used to in this country.
Benitez set out his stall in the January transfer window with the signing of Slimani. It is clear that he wants to sign a dominant striker, capable of holding up the ball.
The on-loan Algerian showed signs that he fitted the bill and the team benefitted from having a striker of his profile lead the line.
In the win against Arsenal, it was his impact after coming on that led to the three points.
The doubts about his discipline and fitness mean that he isn’t the permanent answer, but Benitez will likely want a player cut from the same cloth.
Benteke would fit that, as shown by his aerial duels win percentage of 56.45%. There are few better at dominating defences and bringing the players around him into the game.
The Belgian can be unselfish and he has created chances this season, with an average of 1.11 every ninety minutes.
His poor goal record this season is a concern, but he continues to get in the right positions and cause a threat. The Belgian international has averaged 2.31 shots per ninety minutes.
The money may be an issue for Newcastle considering Mike Ashley likes to keep a close eye on the purse strings, but a move for Benteke makes a lot of sense.
He would be a great fit for the system and add star quality that is lacking in the current squad.
St James’ Park has been a good home to many strikers down the years and the Crystal Palace striker may get a new lease of life if he moved to the North East.
Wilfried Zaha’s new Crystal Palace deal can keep Eagles soaring
The Ivory Coast international has signed a new deal until 2023.
A lengthy summer transfer window ended with a sigh of relief for Crystal Palace fans, as Wilfried Zaha remained in south London for the 2018-19 season.
Linked with Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, the Ivory Coast international remained loyal to the Eagles and has since been rewarded with a lucrative new contract that runs until 2023 – with the club confirming the new deal on Wednesday.
Since *that* disappointing time with Manchester United, Zaha has found his home at Selhurst Park and securing the 25-year-old to a long-term deal is vital for the club’s plans for the coming years – as shown by a remarkable stat.
10 – Since the start of 2017-18, Crystal Palace haven't won a single point in the 10 Premier League matches that Wilfried Zaha hasn't started. Of the 29 games he has started, they've averaged 1.62 points per game. Crucial. pic.twitter.com/YakDklWFFO
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 15, 2018
Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Crystal Palace failed to win a single point in the 10 Premier League matches that Zaha has not started – compared to the average of 1.62 points a game that the Eagles have picked up with their maestro in the side.
His importance was shown last season when, after a woeful start to the season for the south London side, Zaha led the way in a miraculous revival under Roy Hodgson – scoring nine goals and contributing a further three assists.
Zaha hit the ground running against Fulham, opening his account for the campaign on the season’s first round of fixtures, and keeping his services at the club are more important than any of the summer business Hodgson completed in recent months.
Why Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace selection headache is a desirable one
The Eagles continued their fine Premier League form under Roy Hodgson against Fulham.
After Crystal Palace‘s astute summer transfer business, many expected Roy Hodgson’s side to quickly welcome the new signings into the first team fray.
However, in the Eagles’ Premier League opener against Fulham, none of the four summer arrivals started, and only Cheikhou Kouyate played a part in the match.
Although those decisions were in part due to fitness and lack of training, Roy Hodgson nevertheless faces a selection headache ahead of Palace’s match against Liverpool on Monday.
The desire to stick with last season’s winning formula versus the urge to incorporate summer signings is a tricky situation to navigate, yet it is a positive development for Crystal Palace as it creates competition for spaces and improves squad depth.
The starting XI that dispatched Fulham 2-0 at Craven Cottage was absent of any new signings, with goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey notably getting the nod ahead of Vicente Guaita.
The decision came as a particular surprise as the Standard reported in the build-up to the match that the Spaniard was set to start. Instead, the Welshman kept a clean sheet and turned in a man-of-the-match display.
In this instance, it appears the competition of adding another top-class goalkeeper further propelled Hennessey to perform at a higher level, just one example of why Roy Hodgson has a positive selection headache on his hands.
In central midfield, James McArthur and Luka Milivojevic thrived, with McArthur particularly bright in restricting the play-making qualities of Jean-Michael Seri.
Hodgson brought in Kouyate and Max Meyer to add further reinforcements in central midfield, yet on the evidence of the Fulham match these two new signings may have to wait in order to break into the starting lineup.
Jordan Ayew may also press for inclusion in the coming weeks as he gets to grips with the club, presenting another attacking option for the Eagles.
All four new signings will be raring to go and eager to impress, leaving Hodgson with many difficult calls to make as the season progresses.
Yet, overall, the dilemma is a desirable one, improving the quality of the Crystal Palace squad and creating strength in depth.
Premier League Team of the Week I: Featuring Crystal Palace and Liverpool favourites
Who made The Boot Room’s Team of the Week for Game Week 1?
Crystal Palace and Liverpool enjoyed away wins on the opening weekend of the Premier League season while Everton gave newly promoted Wolves a quick reminder of the tough task they face on their return to the top flight.
Following the weekend’s action, The Boot Room picks its six-a-side Team of the Week.
Crystal Palace duo Wayne Hennessey and Aaron Wan-Bissaka make up the defensive line, with both impressing in the Eagles’ 2-0 victory over newly-promoted Fulham.
The former made six saves in-between the sticks to ensure a well-deserved clean sheet, while the latter successfully nullified the attacking threat of the talented Ryan Sessegnon, ensuring last season’s Sky Bet Championship Player of the Year barely had a sniff all game. Meanwhile, he also turned creator for his side’s second goal of the afternoon.
Liverpool’s James Milner‘s imperious display ensures him a spot in midfield for the week. As the Reds strolled to a 4-0 victory over West Ham United at Anfield, the 32-year-old dominated proceedings, bettering his peers in seven key areas, including recording more touches of the ball than any other player on the pitch.
Keeping him company in midfield is Wolves talent Ruben Neves. Like Milner, the 21-year-old Portugal star was central to his club’s efforts throughout the opening week. He demonstrated his immense talent and a level of maturity beyond his years as he lead his side to a 2-2 draw, chipping in with a goal and an assist.
In attack, Everton’s Richarlison seems like a man who is clearly going to thrive on the pressure of performing at Goodison Park, at least if his debut for the Toffees is anything to go by. His well-taken brace against Wolves ensured a ten-man Toffees side emerged with a least a point in their first competitive outing under Marco Silva.
Finally, Liverpool star Sadio Mane proved he is not willing to fall quietly into Mohamed Salah’s shadow at Anfield with a terrific week one performance. The Senegalese forward was in red hot form as he netted a superb brace to pick up where he left off last season following his goal in the Champions League Final defeat to Real Madrid.
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