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Paul Merson finds out intensive research on Newcastle United pays big dividends

4 months ago
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Paul Merson is paid now to give his expert opinion on football, the Premier League in particular.

When it comes to Newcastle United, there has been the ‘occasional’ suspicion in the past that the former Arsenal player might not spend a lot of time doing the essential homework before opening his mouth.

Well this time, Paul Merson has clearly put in some pretty intensive research on Newcastle United, which has then paid big dividends.

Merson has been analysing the Leeds v Newcastle match on Saturday and quite correctly says that the home side have taken a lot of pressure off themselves. After only three wins in their opening  18 Premier League matches, by winning the last two against Burnley (3-1 at Elland Road) and West Ham 3-2 away, suddenly Leeds find themselves nine points above the relegation zone and ten points ahead of Newcastle.

Bielsa’s brave approach has paid off finally, though it has been a bumpy end to end ride with thirty goals in just their last six Premier League games, 11 scored by Leeds and 19 for the opposition.

So can Newcastle United take advantage of the fact that Marcelo Bielsa’s side will always give the opposition opportunities? Well Paul Merson, thanks to his intensive research, has spotted where Newcastle’s biggest hope may be… ‘Leeds do give away too many chances, however, and I think the pace of Almiron could hurt them.’

I wonder what Paul Merson has got in the evidence stakes to back this up, what stats will he quote due to his intensive research…nothing.

I like Miguel Almiron and there is a player there BUT we have seen very little of him for a long long time. Indeed, apart from odd games here and there, not since his opening nine starts under Rafa Benitez when he signed three years ago.

The only pace we are likely to see from Almiron on Saturday is running down the tunnel.

Miggy has only started in three of the nine Eddie Howe Premier League matches so far and five weeks ago was the last one, dropped after starting 4-0 defeats to Leicester and Man City.

Almiron hasn’t got a single goal or assist all season so far and if he doesn’t score at Elland Road, it will then be over a year since he scored his last Premier League goal.

Paul Merson follows up with this amusing addition: ‘They [Newcastle] were in front against Watford last week but just couldn’t seem to hang on.’ Well, Merson wasn’t even watching this very closely AND he was actually covering our game for Sky Sports! On 86 minutes Miguel Almiron replaced ASM to help tighten up our left side and see out the win, only for Almiron to just two minutes later get totally unnecessarily tight on his man, who played a quick one two that left the Paraguayan in no man’s land as the ball was played behind him, the Watford player then free to cross and Pedro head home the equaliser.

I have the feeling that Eddie Howe could have happily subbed Almiron after only those two minutes on the pitch.

Almiron is of course not solely to blame for Newcastle’s situation but sadly he is one of the many weaknesses that have caused us to be where we are at.

Whilst Eddie Howe has sparked improvement in a number of players, especially Joelinton, he is yet to get Almiron playing like we know he can…well hopefully he is still capable of better.

Paul Merson predicts a 2-1 win for Leeds and with Newcastle having won just one of 22 games (all competitions) this season, it is difficult to argue with that.

However, Leeds have got a lot of injuries and Newcastle will get chances, almost certainly a case though of whether or not they can keep the ball out of the net at the other end and with only one Premier League clean sheet all season and 43 goals conceded, the signs aren’t good. Although the big positive against Watford were the full-backs, Trippier looking a class act whilst Dummett impressed in his first game for eight months.

Now if only Newcastle United could buy a centre-back (or two)…

Paul Merson speaking to sportskeeda:

“Leeds managed a brilliant result against West Ham in their previous Premier League game, and this is suddenly not as big a match now.

“The pressure is off for Leeds – if they win this game, they’re safe.

“Leeds do give away too many chances, however, and I think the pace of Almiron could hurt them.

“I’m going to go with a Leeds victory here.

“Newcastle are struggling in the Premier League and can’t seem to win a game.

“They were in front against Watford last week but just couldn’t seem to hang on.

“I think Newcastle can find the back of the net here, but Leeds should be able to win this game.

“Prediction: Leeds United 2-1 Newcastle United.”

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