Paul Merson has been looking ahead to Newcastle United’s trip to Crystal Palace.
The Arsenal fan and former Gunners player as also been reflecting on Newcastle’s defeat at home last Saturday.
Merson predicted Arsenal to win 2-1 and that was how it worked out.
That made it four lots of 2-1 defeats for Newcastle against clubs who finished top six last season.
Apart from the Manchester City loss, the other three games could have feasibly seen Newcastle coming away with a point.
That was the case against Arsenal and Paul Merson admits that Newcastle were a ‘touch unlucky’ after being the better team in the first half.
However, he says that you have to worry when Newcastle collapsed after going behind.
The eventual 2-1 scoreline helped hide the lack of belief and purpose that was missing from pretty much that whole second half.
That collapse coincided with Jamaal Lascelles being forced off at half-time, with local media saying the captain might not be fit enough to play on Saturday.
Last season saw Newcastle draw 1-1 at Selhurst Park and end up hanging on for a point despite NUFC having been the better team in the first half, as well as leading at the break through a Diame goal.
The previous visit was in the (last) relegation season, Cisse scoring first but then a real proper collapse saw Newcastle go in 3-1 down at the break.
One of McClaren’s many strange decisions saw him bring on Lascelles for Perez at half-time, seemingly to try and ensure it wouldn’t be total embarrassment, only for it to be a case of too little too late with Palace winning 5-1 by the final whistle.
Newcastle were never hammered last season, apart from when Lascelles was missing, and have started this season with similar resolve.
However, with the likes of Rondon and Shelvey, plus probably Kenedy, set to start on Saturday, Rafa Benitez will no surely push more onto the front foot, potentially leaving the back door open if the team aren’t careful, particularly if Lascelles is missing.
Paul Merson predicts a 1-0 defeat for Newcastle but if Rondon can build on what he has shown so far against better teams, and hold the ball up and bring other players into the game, Rafa’s team do have a realistic chance of belatedly kicking off their season.
Paul Merson talking to Sky Sports:
“Palace were very fortunate last week at Huddersfield.
“Newcastle were a touch unlucky against Arsenal.
“They were the better team in the first half but as soon as they went behind, wow, they completely and utterly went.
“From a Newcastle perspective that worries me, I see Palace just edging this one.
“Prediction is Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle 0.”