Paul Merson has gone for an Arsenal win in his predictions for this weekend’s game at St James’ Park, however his assessment shows how little he knows about Rafa Benitez and this Newcastle team.
Before we scrutinise his pre-match comments, here’s what he’s actually had to say ahead of the game during his weekly prediction feature for Sky Sports:
“Arsenal always give you a chance, as shown against Cardiff. That tells you everything.
“However, Newcastle can’t be relied on to have a go against the big teams. They won’t create a million chances against the Gunners and Arsenal will create plenty.
“Newcastle will sit back and Arsenal will break them down at some point.”
Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 Arsenal
So, he’s saying that we’ll sit back and be ultra defensive once again, also claiming that Arsenal will create plenty chances.
Benitez may have been ultra cautious in our most recent defeat to Man City, but this does not reflect how we approach every game – especially home games at St James’ Park. I think Merson is forgetting that we will have a go at teams that can be got at – just as we did when we beat Arsenal just a few months ago in this exact fixture in the 2017/18 season..
He even admits that this Arsenal side will always give you a chance, so I would be VERY surprised to see us camp in our own half and not take it to them on Saturday.
I’d also question his comment suggesting Arsenal will create plenty chances. We’ve faced better side in Spurs, Chelsea and Man City and only faced eight shots on goals against the two that came to St James’ Park, with us also limiting Man City to a handful of clear chances when we played them two weeks ago.
If Paul is expecting us to put 11 men behind the ball and not have a go on Saturday, I think he’ll be in for a surprise. I may be wrong, but I’m expecting a far more balanced approach this time out after several defensive displays.