Paul Merson has given his opinion on Newcastle’s match at Huddersfield on Sunday afternoon.
Only five months after United’s 3-1 win there helped keep Newcastle on course for promotion and eventually the title on the final day, the two clubs meet again but in the top tier.
Against anybody’s expectations, Huddersfield have so far had double the next spend of Newcastle United this summer in the transfer market, so how big a factor will that be?
Paul Merson acknowledges the transfer spend of Huddersfield but points out that Newcastle had ‘the better team in the Championship’.
He also gives credit to Rafa’s team for their opening match, saying they did ‘alright’ and Tottenham never looked like scoring until United were reduced to 10 men.
Newcastle looked better away from home for much of last season and Merson thinks Sunday could see ‘less pressure’ on NUFC, compared to kicking off at home against last season’s runners-up.
Newcastle ended the season 13 points and four places higher than Huddersfield, although as Rafa’s players stepped on the gas in the very final stages, David Wagner eased off as automatic promotion hopes slipped away, playing weakened teams ahead of the play-offs, Huddersfield lost three of their last four matches of the regular season.
It is an interesting match and could give a lot of pointers as to how well the two teams are going to cope with Premier League pressure.
Paul Merson has gone with a 1-1 draw prediction (which is incidentally exactly the scoreline also predicted by both Mark Lawrenson and Michael Owen) but I have a feeling it could be a lot more eventful than any of the ‘experts’ are forecasting, hopefully Rafa will once again get his tactics exactly right – just as he did back in March.
Whilst the team did ok against Spurs with 11 on the pitch, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the odd extra change, as well as those forced by the red card and injuries to Dummett and Lejeune.
Paul Merson speaking to Sky Sports:
“I thought Newcastle did alright against Tottenham.
“They weren’t great but they looked hard to beat and Spurs didn’t really look like scoring until Jonjo Shelvey was sent off.
“The pressure will be on Huddersfield a bit more after their win at Crystal Palace and they might have to chase the game more.
“I know Huddersfield have bought players in but Newcastle were the better team in the Championship last year and I think there’s less pressure on them this weekend.”