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Adam Sells’ four takeaways from Crystal Palace’s 4-0 defeat at Newcastle – Time to take a chance on Franca and Rak-Sakyi

Crystal Palace suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat at Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon.

Goals from Jacob Murphy, Anthony Gordon, Sean Longstaff and Callum Wilson saw the Eagles swept aside.

Here are Adam Sells’ four takeaways from St James’ Park:


Saturday was a miserable day all round.

Palace fans making the journey – a six-hundred-mile trip- faced travel chaos, with many not making it.

Those that did, may have wished they hadn’t.

A very unhappy Roy Hodgson said there were no positives he could take post-match.

The experienced Palace boss has overseen more than 400 Premier League matches during a stellar career, but there may be few he will have enjoyed less than this one.


Given the Eagles attacking limitations and the hosts’ home form, this was always going to be a tough fixture.

Last season, on two visits to St James’ Park under the stewardship of Patrick Vieira, Palace kept two clean sheets, despite being on the back foot for much of the encounters. The fixture at Selhurst Park also ended in a goalless stalemate.

But with four clean sheets in eight going into this fixture, there was a hope the visitors may keep it tight and grind out a result.

The early Jacob Murphy goal, with what looked like an intended cross, set the tone for the afternoon.

Almost every player turned in a below-par performance, with the likes of Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi both returning from international form particularly out of sorts.

Ditto, the returning Jefferson Lerma and Cheick Doucoure, who had been a formidable pairing in central midfield.

Newcastle United’s Fabian Schar (left) tackled by Crystal Palace’s Joel Ward during the Premier League match at St James’ Park, Newcastle upon Tyne. Picture date: Saturday October 21, 2023.

In truth, Palace were fortunate to go in only three goals down at the interval – some profligate finishing, most notably from Anthony Gordon, meant it could have been five.


Without their two best attacking players, Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise, Palace are offering little in the way of an offensive threat currently.

Here, Hodgson, quite understandably opted to go with the experienced three of Jordan Ayew on the right, Jean-Philippe Mateta central and Odsonne Edouard operating on the left-hand side – his only other forward options having had one Premier League start between them.

All three look better as central strikers and there was no balance, no spark, no pace, no thrust, no trickery – no goals.

The fact that the manager has so few experienced options at his disposal after the club’s 10 previous seasons in the Premier League is unfathomable. 

The squad is so far short in forward areas, it is some achievement that Hodgson has overseen the start it has had. 

It cannot be that losing two key attacking players can have such an effect when there is every possibility it could happen.

The club knew that both aforementioned Olise and new signing Matheus Franca were both long-term injured before a ball was kicked, but failed to address the squad deficiencies and a lack of goals was always going to be the consequence.

Even though Edouard has managed a very creditable four goals in 701 minutes in the top flight, he is now being pressed into service on the left side, due to the limited options.

Bournemouth, who are yet to record a Premier League victory, are the only team to have scored fewer goals than Palace.

Palace have failed to score in three of their last four outings – Andersen’s thunderbolt at Old Trafford being the only goal.

Outside Edouard’s contribution, the Dane is the second top goalscorer.


A Premier League 25-man squad needs a minimum of six ball carriers. Palace have four – Eze, Olise, Franca and Jesurun Rak-Sakyi.

It is way short in terms of numbers and experience.

Newcastle United’s Callum Wilson (right) scores their side’s fourth goal of the game during the Premier League match at St James’ Park, Newcastle upon Tyne. Picture date: Saturday October 21, 2023.

Both Franca and Rak-Sakyi came on and were the brightest moments of a dismal afternoon.

Rak-Sakyi followed up a positive performance at home to Nottingham Forest, with a bright cameo in the north east.

Young Brazilian Franca showed up well in the 20 minutes or so on the field.

He was positive and silky in possession, playing the most key passes – three – of any player in the game.

If Eze or Olise are unavailable for the upcoming clash at home to Tottenham on Friday evening, then these two must start.

Of course, it is a risk fielding two youngsters with little experience, but there is no choice.

They can provide the pace and trickery that is sorely lacking currently and it is the best that Roy can do right now, with one of Ayew or Edouard employed centrally.

There have been too many games this season where Palace have offered little attacking threat. This is not tactical, this is about a lack of a balanced group of players.

If this doesn’t turn the goalscoring fortunes, then no ire should be aimed in the direction of the management team. It is the best they can do right now. It’s ‘Hobson’s choice’ rather than ‘Hodgson’s choice’.

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