Paul Merson opinion on the current Newcastle United situation
Paul Merson has been discussing Newcastle United and the current situation at St James’ Park.
The former Arsenal player speaking, with now approaching the twenty third NUFC Premier League match of the season.
Eddie Howe and his players having played thirty three matches in total already, in all competitions.
Paul Merson discussing the possibilities ahead of Newcastle United playing at home to Luton Town.
Paul Merson talking to Sportskeeda ahead of Newcastle v Luton:
“Both teams are coming on the back of sensational midweek victories, so this is going to be an exciting game.
“Alexander Isak is injured for Newcastle, but they are formidable at home and will make their massive pitch count, so I think they will have too much for Luton.
“As far as the away side are concerned, this is not their cup final after their incredible 4-0 win against Brighton, so they will look to keep things tight away from home to try and get something.
“If Luton manage to stay up this season, it will be one of the greatest achievements in the Premier League in terms of a team avoiding relegation.
“They have the smallest ground in the top flight by a distance and have been down in non-league football not long ago, so it’ll be quite something.
“Prediction: Newcastle United 3-1 Luton Town”
Ahead of the Villa match, Paul Merson had this to say…
“Newcastle United absolutely have to win this game if they want to have any chance of making it into the Premier League top four. If they lose, it’s completely and utterly out of the question.”
Now, I didn’t know any Newcastle United fan who was still talking about NUFC potentially finishing top four, before that Villa match… and I still don’t.
However, by Paul Merson’s reasoning, he must now surely think there is a chance of Eddie Howe’s side finishing top four.
It wasn’t exactly an astonishing revelation when Paul Merson said that if Newcastle lost to Villa, there would be no chance of that happening. As the table would have now shown Villa fourth on 46 points and Newcastle tenth on 29 points.
Instead, NUFC are ‘only’ 11 points off those guaranteed Champions League places, sitting now eighth with 32 points.
Whilst still none of us are thinking Champions League for Newcastle United (apart from Paul Merson?), it is the case that after a very tough run of fixtures in January, with a trio of matches against the three clubs who started that month filling the top three places in the table, February always looked like it could offer some potential relief.
These three games against Luton home, Forest away and Bournemouth home (before Arsenal away!), they always looked like they might give a chance to get Newcastle back on track a bit.
Paul Merson and all the other ‘experts’, as well as many / most Newcastle fans(!), predicted an easy victory for Villa on Tuesday.
However, the big question now is, can Eddie Howe and his players use that Villa match as a platform to maybe aim higher?
You can be absolutely sure that Eddie Howe will be telling his team / squad the old ‘take each game as it comes’, but if Newcastle United can get another convincing win (or indeed any kind of victory!) against Luton today, then a bit of momentum beginning to build.
Newcastle are more than capable of winning these next three matches and that is all we can concentrate on, rather than wondering how those currently above us will get on. If indeed Eddie Howe’s side win these next three and United are on 41 points after 25 matches, then European football at least in some guise, will be very much back on.
Last season, Newcastle United had 44 points after 25 PL matches, then ended up getting 27 points from the final 13 to finish fourth on 71 points.
A big if… BUT if Newcastle did win these next three AND then once again got 27 points from the final 13, that would see NUFC end up on 68 points, which would have still given fourth last season (Liverpool ended up fifth on 67 points).
I am not getting carried away just yet but win against Luton and then at Forest and home to Bournemouth, with a number of players expected back soon in the near future according to Jason Tindall on Friday, the likes of Barnes, Wilson and Willock. Then a late surge isn’t impossible.
Once we get that Arsenal away match (a draw last season…) out of the way, the final 12 games of the season see Newcastle with only four matches left to play against clubs who are currently in the top nine in the table. Three at home against Spurs, West Ham and Brighton, with Man U the only away one. The other eight of the last twelve games are against clubs currently tenth or lower in the table.
First things first though, get the three points today and then a free week for Eddie Howe to prepare for Forest away and a potential reunion match, playing against NUFC former keeper Matz Sels, who Forest signed on deadline day.
As for Paul Merson declaring that Luton ‘have the smallest ground in the top flight by a distance’….
Yet again his meticulous research coming to the fore.
Luton’s biggest crowd (capacity) this season was 11,112 against Arsenal, whilst Bournemouth’s highest has been the 11,228 against Liverpool. So smallest ground ‘by a distance’ appears to be 116 seats!
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