Crystal Palace and Newcastle United are eagerly anticipating the meeting between the two sides in the Premier League at the weekend, with both going into the match off of contrasting results.
Roy Hodgson’s Eagles will head into their meeting with the Magpies off the back of beating Huddersfield Town 1-0 in their most recent outing, with a Wilfried Zaha strike enough to bring their three-match losing streak to an end, and thus earn them a second Premier League victory of the campaign.
Yet things aren’t as rosy at St James’ Park as Rafa Benitez’s side lost their fourth match of the campaign at home to Arsenal last time out, and while they have had a tricky start in facing Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City, and the Gunners in their first five games, the pressure will be on to earn that elusive victory at Selhurst Park at the weekend.
But both teams will be hoping for improvement as the season wears on having been reasonably active during the summer transfer window, what with Palace adding the likes of Max Meyer and Jordan Ayew to their squad, while Benitez’s Magpies drafted in the likes of Kenedy and Salomon Rondon as they seek to build upon their tenth place finish last term.
And it’s the additions of messrs Ayew and Rondon which are of particular interest, so let’s take a look at how the two compare…
Ghana international Ayew was a rare shining light in an otherwise disastrous campaign for Swansea City last season, what with the South Wales outfit losing their Premier League status.
Yet 27-year-old Ayew certainly did his bit in helping to try and keep the Swans in the top-flight by netting seven goals and laying on two assists in 36 Premier League appearances for the club, in turn finishing as the club’s top-scorer over the course of the campaign.
And in netting seven times for Aston Villa in his only other full season in the English top tier, it’s clear that Ayew has great pedigree in front of goal and was always likely to return to the Premier League this term, with Hodgson’s Palace sealing a loan deal for the striker, in what could prove to be a great move from the Eagles.
And while he has been used sparingly so far by the former England chief, there have been glimpses of promise from his two league starts for the Eagles, with his assist in their 1-0 win over Huddersfield last time out possibly a sign of things to come from the Ghanaian star.
TT Verdict: B
Throughout the entirety of last season, Newcastle were crying out for a forward that could combine the lone striker role with putting the ball in the back of the net, with the likes of Joselu and Dwight Gayle simply unable to do so.
Yet they appear to have finally found the ideal man for the job in luring Venezuela international Rondon away from West Brom on loan for the whole of the 2018/19 campaign, and while like Ayew he hasn’t set the world alight just yet, it’s clear just how influential he is likely to be for the Magpies this term.
The 29-year-old may have only scored once and laid on one assist in four appearances in all competitions this term, but what he brings to Benitez’s side upfront, be it strength and the ability to hold the ball up alongside a cutting edge in front of goal, was exactly what they missed last season – he is the ideal striker in Benitez’s team.
And with at least seven goals in all of his prior seasons at Premier League level, Newcastle have also acquired someone who will put chances away and make telling contributions for the team – it’s a shrewd addition which could prove to be a masterstroke.
TT Verdict: B+
It was always likely that both Ayew and Rondon would return to the Premier League this season, despite suffering relegation Swansea and West Brom respectively last term.
The pair have decent Premier League goal-scoring records and as such will likely prove to be valuable assets to messrs Hodgson and Benitez as the season goes on, what with both teams seeking to build upon mid-table finishes last time round.
Yet the influence Rondon has and will continue to have at Newcastle, in being the striker they have been crying out for in recent times, is unparalleled, and as such suggests that their acquisition of the 29-year-old could prove to be more beneficial to them than Ayew will be to Palace.
Palace and Newcastle fans… what do you think? Let us know!