Paul Merson makes big Newcastle United claim ahead of Sheffield United clash

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Newcastle United take on Sheffield United at Bramall Lane this afternoon (kick-off 4:30pm).

Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has labelled Newcastle United’s Premier League clash at Sheffield United as a “must-win”.

Eddie Howe’s side head to Bramall Lane having opened up their Champions League campaign with a goalless draw against seven-time winners AC Milan on Tuesday night.

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But European football aside, the Magpies have the opportunity to claim back-to-back league wins after last Saturday’s 1-0 win at home to Brentford ended a run of three straight defeats.

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Although the top-flight table is still taking place five games in, Merson believes it is imperative Newcastle leave South Yorkshire with three points otherwise risk missing out on the top four.

But already, Merson reckons Howe’s men are already out of the title race. Not that anyone expected a title challenge, mind.

Giving his prediction to Sportskeeda, Merson said: “I feel this is a must-win for Newcastle, while for Sheffield, this is a ‘must get something’ kind of game.

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“The Magpies were fortunate not to lose against AC Milan on their UEFA Champions League return and have been nowhere close to what they were last season.

“In my opinion, they are already out of the title race and could face an uphill battle to secure a top-four spot if they don’t string together a run of wins.

“Sheffield, meanwhile, are already up against it and have already lost a handful of winnable games. I think it’ll get worse for them this weekend as Newcastle have enough pace and quality to hurt them.”

“Prediction: Sheffield United 0-3 Newcastle United”.

Meanwhile, former Blackburn Rovers striker Chris Sutton has predicted Newcastle to win 1-0 in his BBC column.

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Sutton said: “Sheffield United were really resilient for so long against Tottenham last week, just as they were against Manchester City earlier in the season, but again they were left with nothing to show for it.

“Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom complained about the amount of time added on in the Spurs game, but it was poor defending that let his side down in the end - he can’t blame the referee for that.

“The onus is going to be on them to be more attack-minded in this game, and it’s going to be interesting to see how Newcastle cope after they played in the Champions League in midweek.

“Eddie Howe’s team got away with it a bit against AC Milan on Tuesday, because they didn’t play well - but it was a great point for them in the end.

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“It wasn’t just at the San Siro where Newcastle haven’t clicked because they have not really done that very often this season, but they are going to gel at some point.

“They have got enough depth now to rotate their squad in midfield and attack, which is important, and I think they will get the job done at Bramall Lane one way or another.”

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