Paul Merson was just one of the many who couldn’t see anything other than a heavy defeat for Newcastle United at home to Man Utd.
However, Newcastle emerged from that game 10 days ago with a clean sheet and all three points.
When looking ahead to the next match it is very hard not to pay particular attention to these stand out Newcastle United stats.
They tell you that in the past nine weeks, Rafa’s players have never scored more than one goal in a Premier League game, whilst at the other end they have only conceded more than one in that time period – and that was away at Man City.
Paul Merson goes for Bournemouth to upset the stats but Newcastle to continue them in a 2-1 defeat.
Before the last round of Premier League matches, Bournemouth were unbeaten in seven and had picked up 15 points from a possible 21, beating Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton in the process.
Earlier in the season they also beat Huddersfield 4-0 at home, so how do you explain the fact that last time out they lost 4-1 at Huddersfield, a team that had lost their last five matches?
By contrast, Newcastle hadn’t actually won a Premier League game since New Year’s Day (1-0 at Stoke), until that very professional and committed 1-0 defeat of Man Utd in the last game.
It all adds up to a very confused picture when it comes to having any certainty with predictions and maybe at this stage of the season with clubs in the relegation zone playing each other, it comes down to who can hold their nerve.
Newcastle have been better than anybody under Rafa Benitez this season when it comes to taking points off the clubs around them.
Whilst Mike Ashley allowed no players to be bought in January, loan signings Kenedy and Dubravka have both significantly improved the team in their performances so far.
If Islam Slimani can now do the same up front, I think there is every chance that Newcastle can start and score two goals or better in a decent number of the remaining matches, which if combined with Jamaal Lascelles staying fit and continuing his astonishing stats (Newcastle have only conceded more than one goal on only three occasions in Lascelles’ 21 PL starts), it then adds up (for me anyway) to an improving NUFC who can at least take a point this weekend.
A win would take Newcastle to 31 points and above Bournemouth on goal difference and very likely only a couple of victories away from safety with 10 matches still to play.
The stakes are getting higher and higher as we near the finishing line and with Rafa set to have pretty much a full squad to choose from and having had two weeks of preparation, you would be foolish to bet against him in this game.
Paul Merson speaking to Sky Sports:
“This is a big, big game.
“If Newcastle win they bring Bournemouth straight back into the relegation mix, even though they looked out of it near the top half a few weeks ago.
“Newcastle have fared well recently but if Bournemouth, with home advantage, reach the levels they did before their shocking defeat at Huddersfield I think they will just have too much.
“Prediction is Bournemouth 2 Newcastle 1.”
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