Former Arsenal and England star Paul Merson believes Newcastle United are going to be ‘right up there’ in the Premier League at the end of the season.
The Magpies will look to round off a transformative 2022 on a high when Leeds United visit St James Park on New Years Eve and then head into the game knowing they will head into the new year in a Champions League place, no matter what happens against Jesse Marsch’s side.
United’s 3-0 win at Leicester City on Boxing Day took Eddie Howe’s men into second place in the Premier League table - although that would slip to third if Manchester City collect all three points from their trip to Leeds on Wednesday night. But talk of a first return to the Champions League since the days of Sir Bobby Robson, Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy will not go away as Newcastle kick off their 2023 fixtures with a visit to leaders Arsenal.
That excitement and anticipation is a far cry from the mood that had descended on Tyneside 12 months ago when Howe and the current crop of Magpies stars were firmly in the midst of what would be an ultimately successful battle against relegation. But with their focus now on events at the other end of the Premier League table, the Magpies have been backed to continue their eye-catching form by Sky Sports pundit Merson.
He told Sky Sports: "Amazing. They blew them (Leicester) away. I thought it would be a difficult game. I thought back after the break, this would be the test but they jumped out the traps and they were outstanding. They were really professional. They're a team. They play as a team. They all work for each other. They all know when to go when they close down, they all go. They're well drilled with some flair in the team as well and some match winners.
“They've got Leeds at home next and I expect them to beat Leeds and then all of sudden, the big game against Arsenal. I don't think they're going to go away. I think they're going to be right up there. I don't see them losing three games on the trot. They're a very good team."