Patrick Vieira backed Newcastle United for European qualification after his Crystal Palace side left St James’ Park with a point on Saturday.
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In the continued absence of key players such as Callum Wilson, Bruno Guimaraes and Allan Saint-Maximin, Eddie Howe’s side could not find a way through Palace, while also needing Nick Pope to keep the likes of Odsonne Edouard and Jean-Philippe Mateta out at the other end.
Alexander Isak missed a glorious chance to mark his home debut with a goal in a stalemate that somehow managed to contain 42 shots.
The result leaves Newcastle 11th in the Premier League, winning once in their opening six games, albeit this is still an embryonic stage of the campaign and the caveat should be added that Howe’s side have had to play Manchester City and Liverpool in their opening half a dozen outings.
Further consideration should be given to the fact that the team have been unlucky, too. Callum Wilson had a goal disallowed against Brighton, Fabian Schar might have had a penalty against City and Fabio Carvalho’s winner at Anfield came eight minutes into a five-minute injury time.
Against Palace, an own goal from Tyrick Mitchell was controversially ruled out after VAR judged Joe Willock to have committed a foul in the build-up.
What did Vieira say of Newcastle?
Still, Vieira believes the top seven awaits Howe’s side.
Speaking to the Press Association after the game, the Frenchman said: “It’s a tough place to come, big atmosphere and you need to defend well as a team, and I think we did it well and we fully deserved that point.
“You’re looking at what they spent, you’re looking at the ambition – it’s going to be challenging for any other teams coming here to get something.
“They are a really strong side and I think this is one of the teams that you can count on playing European football.”
Of the disallowed goal, the Palace boss said (via BBC’s matchday LIVE blog): “Rightly so. It was a clear foul and if it wasn’t the keeper gets the ball in his hands. The referee makes the right decision.”