Paul Merson believes we are in for ‘an exciting game’ when Newcastle face Everton on Saturday.

Maybe surprisingly, Merson doesn’t see the draw with Villa as the ‘worst result’, saying that Newcastle simply couldn’t afford to lose last Saturday and that the result meant Villa remained a healthy 10 points below United.

Repeating the line that Steve McClaren has been using, the wins over Spurs and Liverpool make the draw with Villa an ok one, according to Paul Merson anyway.

As for Everton, Merson believes that they are letting in too many goals and throwing points away, with 24 goals conceded the Toffees aren’t the best at the back, but Newcastle have a healthy 8 goal ‘advantage’ with the 32 they have conceded – only Sunderland have let in more (33).

Saturday’s visitors have thrown away winning positions in their last two away games, the last one at Norwich but the most striking one at Bournemouth.

On the south coast they led 2-0 with 10 minutes to go, only to concede two late goals. Amazingly Everton then took the lead yet again, only for Bournemouth to make it 3-3 in the eighth minute of injury time.

Last season’s 3-2 home win for Newcastle, almost exactly a year ago, showed Newcastle in very good attacking form despite ironically Everton having taken an early then as well.

The question for Newcastle fans is whether Steve McClaren will dispense with the negative tactic of playing two defensive players in the centre of midfield and put the emphasis on attack.

Only Manchester City and Leicester have scored more goals than the scousers and for Newcastle to plan their game around keeping a clean sheet looks fatal.

No surprise to see where Everton’s biggest threat is likely to come from, with Lukaku having scored 16 times already.

Paul Merson thinks that the match is most likely to be a draw but if any team will win it, it won’t be Newcastle…

Paul Merson talking to Sky Sports:

“Everton let in goals, and they throw points away left, right and centre so this should be an exciting game.

“Newcastle couldn’t afford to lose to Villa and that draw keeps Villa out of the way.

“It wasn’t the worst result considering the wins they got over Tottenham and Liverpool. If you looked at it as a package, seven points out of nine, Steve McClaren would have taken that.

“It’s hard to back Everton at the moment because even when they play well, like against Norwich, they end up drawing. I expect Romelu Lukaku to score again on Boxing Day, but he’s got a couple of hard games coming up.

“Everton make plenty of chances each game, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he got very close to Jamie Vardy’s record.

“I’m going with a draw, but if I had to pick a winner, I would go Everton because if they play to their ability they’ll win this game.”