The general theme for Paul Merson and others last weekend, was that Newcastle were going to get their comeuppance.

The belief (or maybe wanting to believe?) that the previous game’s 3-0 win over West Ham had been all about the Hammers being clueless, rather than Newcastle getting their feet under the table in the Premier League.

The pundits/experts were in agreement that Swansea would put Rafa’s team in their place, Paul Merson declaring:

‘The Premier League class will show in this one. Swansea have been there and done it and will have too much for Newcastle.’

When you talk about ‘Premier League class’, last season actually showed a much of a muchness, with 10 clubs remarkably separated by only six points – Watford in 17th up to Southampton in eighth.

On top of that, Swansea lost their talisman Gylfi Sigurdsson in the summer, so despite having made signings, the Welsh outfit had looked anything but convincing so far.

Indeed looking back at last season, Swansea won the first match but then had to wait until 26 November 2016 for the second victory. In fact it was just a last gap effort of four wins and a draw in the final five matches that transformed them from looking doomed for sure, into survivors on 41 points.

We are once again being reminded in the flesh, as we had continued to see on TV last season, the Premier League has some very good teams and some excellent players but it isn’t like you are playing world beaters every week.

I sense a grudging respect for Newcastle’s performance at Swansea and I feel there will be a bit of a proper change in the wind direction, if Newcastle manage to beat a Stoke City side who have come to be middle of the table regulars with very few, if any, relegation scares.

Paul Merson predicts a 1-1 draw and says if Newcastle win then ‘It’s happy days at the club’ and with everything else has gone on, especially the Rafa/Ashley transfer friction, it would then be a case of  the proverbial ‘It’s a funny old game’.

Newcastle’s fate this season will be majorly decided by how they get on in the matches against the clubs who won’t finish in the top five or six places and with defeat to Huddersfield and wins over West Ham & Swansea, Newcastle United are now 2-1 up.

Another win on Saturday and United would be 3-1 up and although not an unassailable lead, it would give breathing space and great momentum leading into yet another potentially key game for those who will be nearer the bottom, when Newcastle visit Brighton.

The fact Paul Merson says about Newcastle and Stoke ‘I can’t separate them at the moment’, is really a quite sizeable compliment coming from him, even if it wasn’t necessarily intended.

Respectability would do us all this season and Rafa Benitez has already laid a couple of building blocks towards that.

Paul Merson speaking to Sky Sports:

Newcastle v Stoke – Saturday, 3pm

“Both teams had good results last weekend and I can’t separate them at the moment.

“Stoke have found their feet and Newcastle have had a couple of good results.

“Newcastle put in a good performance at Swansea and if they get another win then it’s happy days at the club.

“It’s a funny old game.

“Paul Merson prediction: 1-1”

  • Kneebotherm8

    Those spectacles make Merson look half intelligent.😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

    • Georgia Peter

      Na aah. Thicket.

    • ToonNL

      I think they’re to hide the hangover he’s carrying

    • Peaky Magpie

      Or the ghost of Jack Duckworth !!!!👻👻👻

  • Steve Pearce

    Paul Merson and Micheal Owen seen to crop up with their utter drivel before every match. What’s going on here – are they paying you to vent their venom or have you got a fixation about their rear ends? You should be supporting the team you are named after you utter morons or are you so desperate to justify your miserable existence?

  • TheTradge

    Merson has always hated Newcastle, and more often than not goes out of his way to show it, nice to see him eating a bit of humble pie, if the match against Stoke was last weekend he would have predicted something like a 4-1 hammering! Just shows how useless pundits can be, in football you can never predict what will happen, a particularly good example was Newcastle vs Spurs during 2013/14, they had far more shots on target than us and yet we won 1-0, largely due to Tim Krul having an absolute worldie!

    As far as the Stoke match goes, I actually agree with Merson, there’s little separating them in terms of form, Newcastle I’d say we’re the stronger defensively but only marginally, I reckon the big telling factor could well be home soil advantage, Newcastle usually do well against Stoke at home so if our back line are at the races like they were last weekend we could be seeing another 1-0, but I think 1-1 is a fair prediction.