On Saturday, Newcastle United host Burnley in a Premier League match that must be won. This, at least, is Paul Merson’s take on the matter in his Sportskeeda column,
In the eyes of the Gunners legend, this trip to St. James’ Park is a cup final for Eddie Howe’s Newcastle. Only one team has yet to win this season, and they face a “messy” run of games after this weekend’s encounter with Burnley.
Newcastle have slipped further out of contention for a playoff spot in recent weeks as they continue their quest for a first win. As a result, the team from the North East is now rooted at the foot of the table with just six points separating them from the relegation zone, and they can only climb as high as the 18th position with a win.
Newcastle must defeat 18th-place Burnley by at least four goals if they are to climb above the Clarets in the Premier League standings. Tottenham must defeat Norwich City on Sunday in order for them to move up to the 18th spot.
Merson issues ‘massive’ Newcastle verdict ahead of Burnley clash
Merson doubts Burnley will let Newcastle open the game up enough to overturn their poor goal difference. No side has shipped more than the Magpies’ 30 to the Clarets’ 20 allowed.
“This is a massive game for Newcastle,” Merson wrote. “It’s a cup final for them because, after this match, their fixture list starts to get messy. They’ve got visits to Liverpool, [Manchester] United, [Man] City and Leicester coming up and they need a result here.
“Burnley are a hard team to beat. They know how to keep it tight defensively, and I don’t think they’re going down this season. Burnley did well to get that 0-0 result against Wolves [on Wednesday] and will likely make sure that they don’t lose this game.”
Burnley will face Newcastle on a run of three-straight Premier League draws with Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Wolves. Only the Eagles also hit more than one goal past Nick Pope.
The Clarets have also not lost since a 2-0 defeat at Manchester City on October 16. Howe will be desperate to change that on Saturday and oversee Newcastle’s first win of the term before their ‘messy’ run of fixtures, as Merson describes it in his warning to the Toon boss.