Paul Merson is seen as a bit of a joke figure by most Newcastle fans.
Especially when it comes to his predictions, as he invariably tips Newcastle to lose.
After watching Rafa’s team beat Huddersfield, he has made another prediction, but this time it is not a joke we can all laugh at.
For Paul Merson, there was one player who really stood out and he is somebody who has impressed him for some time.
The Sky Sports pundit picking out Jamaal Lascelles for special praise, declaring that the Newcastle captain was ‘outstanding’ once again.
Newcastle fans wouldn’t disagree.
Lascelles has now started 25 Premier League games this season and with him in the side they have conceded only 23 goals, in the 6 matches he didn’t start – Newcastle conceded 17 goals.
Newcastle have picked up 34 of their 35 points when the captain has started.
Whilst in the 25 matches, there have been 8 clean sheets and 12 times conceded just once. So only on four occasions has a Lascelles Newcastle team conceded two goals and only one it was three – away at Man City.
When you are talking about a Newcastle squad that was allowed minimum net spend last summer and no buys allowed in January 2017 and 2018, that is some defensive record achieved by Rafa Benitez and his captain.
Merson’s less popular opinion on Jamaal Lascelles is that ‘For me, I think he goes somewhere and plays for a big team.’
Well, if Newcastle United are ever to be a ‘big team’ again, they simply have to hold onto their best players, then build from there.
This summer, Mike Ashley has to either sell up or convince people such as the manager and his best players, that things will change at Newcastle and surviving in the Premier League on as small a spend as possible, isn’t the only plan.
Paul Merson talking to Sky Sports:
“A brilliant result for Newcastle.
“I thought Mohamed Diame was very good.
“I like the centre-half, Lascelles.
“He’s a good player for me.
“For me, I think he goes somewhere and plays for a big team.
“I really do like him. He got a silly booking [after 10 minutes] but after that he was absolutely outstanding throughout the game.
“Diame played well, Perez played very well, they all did.
“Thing is, it is very rare Newcastle come off the football pitch and you think ‘They didn’t play well but they won’.
“They should have been out of sight but kept on going.
“For me, it was a massive massive football goal [when Perez scored the winner].”
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 1 Huddersfield 0
Newcastle: Perez 80
Possession was Huddersfield 37% Newcastle 63%
Total shots were Huddersfield 4 Newcastle 18
Shots on target were Huddersfield 0 Newcastle 3
Corners were Huddersfield 3 Newcastle 3
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu 67), Shelvey, Diame (Hayden 79), Shelvey, Kenedy, Gayle (Slimani 75)
Darlow, Manquillo, Clark, Murphy
Crowd: 52,261 (3,000 Huddersfield)
(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 1 Huddersfield 0 go HERE)
(Despite not one effort on target David Wagner says Huddersfield didn’t deserve to lose! Read HERE)
(Rafa Benitez reaction to the win HERE)
(Paul Merson gets very animated after watching Newcastle 1 Huddersfield 0 – Read it HERE)
(Alan Shearer loving what he saw as Newcastle beat Huddersfield – Read it HERE)