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Mark Lawrenson refuses to let Steve Bruce comparisons with Rafa Benitez drop

4 weeks ago
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Mark Lawrenson is a strange one.

Certainly where Newcastle United are concerned anyway.

The BBC Sport employee making some laughable comments ahead of the game at St James Park on Sunday.

This is a fixture with a quite remarkable record in the Premier League era.

Newcastle started off with five victories in a row against Everton at St James Park, starting off a run of 16 games where NUFC only lost two, winning ten and drawing four between the 1993/94 and 2010/11 seasons.

However, the past nine Newcastle home league games against Everton in the Premier League have produced six wins for the visitors and only three victories for NUFC.

Indeed, this turnaround in fortunes in the fixture, means that Everton have only won more (11) times at West Ham in the Premier League than the eight at Newcastle.

Despite that and the fact that Everton are currently top of the Premier League, Mark Lawrenson confidently predicts a win for the Magpies.

Lawrenson’s reasoning for this prediction is based on: ‘When they need a bit of luck, Newcastle seem to get it…Steve Bruce’s side hang in there in a lot of games.’

Well, there is no denying that Steve Bruce has carried an extraordinary amount of luck in his time at Newcastle so far and indeed the last time these two teams met, was possibly the ultimate example. Everton absolutely battering Newcastle at Goodison Park in January, cruising at 2-0 and completely dominating, an inspired performance by Martin Dubravka preventing a five or six goal demolition, then pretty much the first two times Newcastle got inside the Everton penalty area, Florian Lejeune scored twice in sixty seconds in added time after the 90 minutes.

When talking about Steve Bruce and his team, for some reason Mark Lawrenson can’t help but still make comparisons with Rafa Benitez, a manager who won’t have taken charge of a Newcastle match for 18 months when the two clubs meet on Sunday. Lawrenson declaring: ‘Steve Bruce’s side hang in there in a lot of games. Which is essentially what they did under previous manager Rafael Benitez too. But Bruce is trying to be a bit more offensive at times in certain games and I think we’ll see the Magpies create some chances on Sunday.’

I’ll leave it to you to decide if Rafa Benitez was really so ultra negative as often as Steve Bruce has been but I have definitely missed this bit where Steve Bruce is ‘trying to be a bit more offensive at times’, with only 17 shots on target in their last eight Premier League matches, I don’t recognise this Newcastle United that Mark Lawrenson is talking about, as he predicts Newcastle will win 2-1 on Sunday.

It is interesting that in these past five years seven months, Newcastle United have only had Steve Bruce and Rafa Benitez in charge, whilst Everton have in that same period had Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and Marco Silva as well as Carlo Ancelotti, yet you never see Mark Lawrenson and other pundits relentlessly comparing what Ancelotti is doing with what Silva, Fat Sam, Koeman and Martinez got up to.

You would never think Ancelotti had been in the Everton job for only two thirds of the time Bruce has been in charge at Newcastle.

Steve Bruce has been allowed a net spend of over £100m (more than Ancelotti has at Everton) and made 13 signings of senior players (including loans), this is Bruce’s Newcastle United team and there can be no more excuses on his behalf, comparing to when Rafa Benitez, Steve McClaren, John Carver or whoever was in charge.

Mark Lawrenson talking to BBC Sport:

“Lucas Digne joins Richarlison in being suspended for Everton after his red card in their defeat against Southampton.

“Everton have still made an excellent start to the season despite losing that game but I have a feeling they will end up empty-handed here too.

“When they need a bit of luck, Newcastle seem to get it – against Tottenham and then Wolves, when they nicked a point from both.

“Steve Bruce’s side hang in there in a lot of games.

“Which is essentially what they did under previous manager Rafael Benitez too.

“But Bruce is trying to be a bit more offensive at times in certain games and I think we’ll see the Magpies create some chances on Sunday.

“Prediction is Newcastle 2 Everton 1.”

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