Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson is predicting a low-scoring affair when Newcastle visit Selhurst Park on Saturday.
The two clubs have struggled in front of goal this season, with the Eagles finding the net only 23 times in 26 Premier League matches.
Steve Bruce’s Newcastle have only fared slightly better, scoring one more than Palace in the top flight this term, but the pair hold a healthy advantage over the bottom three due to their defensive prowess.
“Most games seem to be 1-0 or 2-0 and I don’t see any particular event on the horizon to suggest this won’t be that type of game,” Hodgson told reporters at a press conference.
“Both teams know how to defend and both teams are fully aware that once you concede a goal it’s very hard to score at the other end.”
Palace have scored the fewest amount in the division and yet are 14th, with a six-point cushion over West Ham – who are 18th – and just four points off Arsenal in 10th.
Forward Cenk Tosun will be back on Saturday and, for the first time in a long while, Hodgson will have genuine competition in attack with Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Ayew, Christian Benteke, Andros Townsend, Max Meyer and the on-loan Everton striker all vying for a starting berth.
“We have the firepower to score more goals than we have so far,” Hodgson added.
“We started so well and have had the brakes put on particularly by injury and partly by misfortune.
“At one stage when we were flying high we were hoping to finish in the top half and, at the moment, I don’t see any reason why we should abandon that hope.”
The return of Tosun and Martin Kelly after hamstring and calf injuries respectively boosts the hosts, but James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho are still out with hamstring problems while Jeffrey Schlupp is not fit enough to feature after returning to training this week after an issue with his hip.
Illness has affected two players, but Hodgson may still be able to call upon the unspecified duo against the Magpies.
On Thursday, chairman Steve Parish spoke to the official Palace website and confirmed the club “had presented Roy with a contract” to keep him at Selhurst Park past this summer, when his current deal expires.
After talks started earlier in the season, Hodgson is expected to officially put pen to paper shortly.
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