Newcastle United and Crystal Palace will both be looking to edge nearer to the ‘magic 40-point mark’ when they meet at St James’ Park on Saturday, with Stuart Attwell being appointed to officiate the match on Tyneside earlier this week.
Both teams come into the clash having suffered defeats this week, with the Magpies losing 2-0 to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Monday, and the Eagles on the end of the same scoreline just a few miles down the road at Tottenham Hotspur’s brand new stadium on Wednesday night.
The south London outfit’s form in their previous six games in all competitions has certainly been up and down – mainly the latter in all truth – as they have been beaten four times and picked up all three points on two other occasions.
One of those was against already-relegated Huddersfield Town at Selhurst Park last weekend, where they really toiled before getting two goals later on in the proceedings.
The frustration with manager Roy Hodgson is there for all to see, especially at home where they have the 18th-best home record in the division.
Compare that to seventh-best away and it is clear to see where Palace are stronger, and the presence of Attwell in the middle of the park on Saturday may just be a lucky charm that hands Hodgson yet another reprieve.
The 36-year-old has officiated in 17 Premier League matches this term, with 41.2% of those ending with the away team winning, as per stats-based website WhoScored.
That is the fifth-highest percentage out of the 18 referees that have taken charge in the top flight during the current campaign.
When you combine that statistic with Palace’s record on the road, you would have to fancy Hodgson’s men to record another memorable away day – they’ve certainly had their fair share of those already this season.
A Crystal Palace fan shares his most gutting moment of the last 10 years supporting the Eagles in the video below…
The hosts will certainly have something to say about though and while they flatter to deceive on their travels, they have actually won their previous five fixtures at St James’ Park.
An interesting spectacle awaits, and Hodgson will hope that the gods are shining down on him against the Magpies to give him some more breathing space from an irritated and demanding set of supporters.