Going in to this weekend’s fixture, Palace have three games left, nine points still to play for, and could potentially finish the season in a top ten position. If the maximum is gained over the next three weeks, the south London club would be showing the sort of form of a side capable of winning their first major trophy in English football…
But first things first, and a trip to the north-east awaits the Eagles this weekend as the players face a Newcastle team fighting for their Premier League lives. Bakary Sako is yet to experience playing at St. James’ Park, and if he does feature, it will be the first time he’s played against the Toon Army after missing the reverse match earlier on in the season due to injury.
“I was out for more than three months and didn’t get to play when we beat them, but I’m looking forward to playing this time. There’s going to be a lot of pressure around the game and the manager (Alan Pardew) came from Newcastle so it’s going to be intense.”
Picking up six points from their last five league games, Palace are now only one draw result away from almost guaranteeing safety. However, Sako says the team aren’t looking for the odd point, and will instead be pushing for the wins that will give the players momentum and confidence going into the FA Cup final at the end of May.
“We’re going to try and win them all and I think that has to be the main priority for all the players in the squad. I’ve played my part and I’ll be trying my best until the end of the season. We need to prepare ourselves for the final – we all want a place in the team. It’s a dream come true for many of us, for the fans and the club, it’s so huge so we’re very happy.”
Now in his second season playing in the Premier League, the winger has settled in well and says it is the team’s togetherness which has proved the defining factor – something he believes is lacking at the Tyneside club.
“We’ve had our injuries and unlucky moments but the team is together, and now the squad is fully fit we have confidence again. It’s surprising what’s happened with Newcastle, they have a really good team and some really good players but sometimes if you don’t play as a team this is what happens.”
Go to the Eagles.cpfc.co.uk to watch Alan Pardew’s pre-match press conference ahead Saturday’s game against Newcastle.