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Mark Lawrenson at last admits ‘I have no idea…’ when assessing Newcastle v Arsenal

2 years ago
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A lot of people have been saying it for years about Mark Lawrenson.

That the BBC Sport pundit has ‘no idea’ when it comes to the ‘expert’ advice he gives.

To go two years without predicting a single defeat for the team he supports [Liverpool] is proof that as well as not having a clue most of the time, personal bias also comes into his decision(s).

Ahead of Newcastle facing Arsenal on Sunday, Mark Lawrenson says that Rafa’s team are on a good run and now ‘pretty safe’.

Having climbed to 10th place in the table and 10 points clear of the relegation zone with only six games to play, it would take a disaster of quite epic proportions, for Newcastle to end up in trouble again.

Whilst not getting complacent, Newcastle fans are looking up rather than down now, hoping that recent wins against top eight clubs Man Utd and Leicester can be added to.

Arsenal are in no man’s land in the league and even Arsene Wenger admitted as much before last night’s Europa League match with CSKA Moscow.

Fully 13 points behind fourth place with only 18 points to play for, the Premier League means nothing to Arsenal this season.

On Friday afternoon they were unlucky to draw Atletico Madrid out in the Europa League semi-finals, they play the first leg at the Emirates on Thursday 26 April, 11 days after facing Newcastle on Sunday.

Whilst Wenger won’t be wrapping his players up in cotton wool in the meantime, he certainly won’t be taking any chances with his top stars.

Mark Lawrenson says ‘It is hard to predict a result for this one because I have no idea what sort of team Arsene Wenger will put out after Thursday’s trip to Moscow’.

Well, as he played all his best available players last night, I think it is fair to say Wenger won’t then ask the likes of Ramsey, Wilshere, Lacazette and Ozil to start at Newcastle just over 60 hours later.

Rafa Benitez has said that Arsenal are favourites and the bookies agree, but he also claims that last night’s match and the travel/timing don’t help Newcastle, due to Arsenal’s big squad.

If the Gunners were going for the title, or even Champions League qualification via the Premier League, then maybe he would have some kind of a point.

However, that is not the case and Arsenal’s season next rests on these two games against Atletico Madrid.

I bet Arsene Wenger would take a point at St James Park if offered now – but I bet Rafa Benitez wouldn’t.

Mark Lawrenson has sat on the fence and gone for a draw but I bet when Arsene Wenger names his team on Sunday, the BBC Sport pundit would quickly shift opinion towards a Newcastle victory.

Mark Lawrenson talking to BBC Sport:

“Arsenal have won their past six games in all competitions but that is what they always seem to do at this stage of the season, when the pressure is off them.

“Newcastle are also on a good run, winning three in a row.

“They are pretty much safe now and are in the top half, which is great for them because most of this season has been a slog.

“I am going to go for a draw but it is hard to predict a result for this one because I have no idea what sort of team Arsene Wenger will put out after Thursday’s trip to Moscow.

“Winning the Europa League to get into the Champions League is obviously the priority for the Gunners now.

“Prediction is Newcastle 1 Arsenal 1.”

Rafa Benitez:

“Normally, you can be tired  [after travelling]

“At the same time, if you have a big squad, you will be fine. I don’t think it [Arsenal playing in Moscow on Thursday night] will be an advantage for us.

“Forty points is the mark. We are closer than before, but still, two points will be the key and the mark we are aiming for.

“If any players has any doubt, I will put another player on the pitch.

“The reality is that Arsenal is one of the top sides in English football.

“Very good players, very good manager with great experience.

“If I say they are favourites, I am not playing games. [But] I have confidence that we can beat them.

Newcastle v Arsenal Match Betting with BetVictor:

Newcastle win 9/4 – Draw 13/5 – Arsenal win 5/4

Perez to score first goal 9/1 – NUFC win 1-0 12/1 – Slimani to score in both halves 33/1

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