Newcastle vs Crystal Palace later today may not be a game that the rest of the Premier League will take much notice of, however, both sides will be desperate to get all three points, and will be relying on their respective star men to achieve that. For the Magpies, record signing Miguel Almiron is the man whilst the Eagles have the flashy Wilfried Zaha.
Almiron is yet to score his first goal for the Geordies, and what a time it would be this weekend if he was to net in front of the Gallowgate end at St James Park to down Roy Hodgson’s Palace. If the game was to go the other way, though, the man to do the business for Palace is blatantly Zaha. The Ivorian is arguably the best player outside of the Premier League’s top six, and here we’ll be comping the two star men.
So far from Almiron, we’ve seen plenty of good signs but nothing concrete. However there’s no smoke without fire and the work rate, passion and endless running from the Paraguayan is bound to bring some end product sooner or later. The Geordies are just desperate for it to come sooner, and they don’t want to see the 25-year-old heading into the 2019/20 season still chasing that first elusive Newcastle goal.
The Paraguayan is unlucky not to have netted yet, but as Rafa Benitez’s side still have six games to go including their clash today, if Almiron keeps going the way he is then surely he’ll net soon. Until then, though, there will be question marks over him and the £20 million fee that the Geordies parted with to snatch him from across the pond. Thee signs are certainly there, but we just need a little bit more from the flashy South American in front of goal.
TT GRADE: B
Where to start on Wilfried Zaha? Without the Ivorian, there is little doubt that Palace would have surrendered their Premier League status many seasons ago, and their current run of six seasons in the top flight is the longest in their post-war history. Given that stat, it’s fair to say that Zaha is going to go down as a legend at Selhurst Park, and his 51 goals and 62 assists only confirm that.
This season has seen the Ivorian grab eight goals and seven assists in the Premier League and once again his brilliance and trickery have been key to the Eagles’ success. The mid-table slot that Palace currently fill is one that the fans could only dream of ten years ago, but as Zaha has risen to prominence so have the South London club, and if anyone is going to be put Newcastle to the sword today it will most certainly be Zaha.
TT GRADE: A+
Look away Newcastle fans, because this is one battle you’re not winning.
At this moment in time, Mike Ashley’s big January swoop is looking like a schoolboy in comparison to Zaha.
In time, Almiron may prove this battle to be spectacularly wrong, but going off of the evidence we have now, it is impossible to try and fathom that Almiron is better, more important or has more chance of influencing a top flight game than Palace’s wizard, and for those reasons Zaha is the deserved winner of this battle.