Mark Lawrenson replacement predicts Newcastle United opening day fate

Posted By Foster | Section: Sport
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Mark Lawrenson is no more, at least that is, when it comes to predicting Liverpool to win every week in his ‘professional’ capacity working for BBC Sport.

Rather than scrapping the role, BBC Sport have found a replacement to do the Premier League predictions.

Moving in instead of the irritating Mark Lawrenson, is the…irritating Chris Sutton.

Along with his mate Robbie Savage, Sutton has at times proved to be simply embarrassing on the 606 phone in, and at other times, when discussing Newcastle United.

There have been rare moments though when Alan Shearer’s former strike partner at Blackburn has suggested he isn’t a completely lost cause.

Chris Sutton has given his prediction for this opening weekend’s matches, along with his colleague Alistair Bruce-Ball, the pair co-hosting on the fantasy 606 podcast.

Newcastle United were excellent in the second half of last season, especially at home, at St James’ Park in the final eight games there were only four goals conceded by NUFC and Eddie Howe’s players won seven of those last eight home games.

Whilst Steve Bruce was busy trying to relegate Newcastle United last season, only picking up three points in the eight PL games before he was sacked, at Forest it was a similar story. Steve Cooper took over in September when Forest only had four points from their first eight Championship games.

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After Cooper took over, Forest picked up 76 points in 38 matches, giving them fourth in the table and an average of exactly 2.00 points under him. Which incidentally, was the exact same points average (2.00) Eddie Howe managed across the second half of the season.

Chris Sutton goes for a 1-0 Newcastle home win and points to home advantage as a key factor. Not ideal playing a full of enthusiasm promoted team in your first game of the season but certainly you don’t want to play them away.

Over half of Forest’s first choice players were loan signings last season, who all returned to their respective clubs, meaning the promoted club have needed some extreme summer business…some thirteen signings I believe at the last count.

Hopefully they will still be learning each other’s names, never mind complementing each other’s play on the pitch, so fingers crossed Newcastle can take advantage.

Club data has shown that this is the fittest ever Newcastle United squad heading into a new season and in contrast to the visitors, NUFC will have one new outfield player in the starting eleven, at most. Sven Botman competing with Burn and Schar for a place.

Such a solid team unit in 2022, no reason why Newcastle United can’t continue that, especially with Wilson and Trippier now fully fit.

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I predict a few goals today and with Newcastle not having conceded more than one at home since before Christmas 2021, I am confident NUFC will hit the ground running this afternoon.

Chris Sutton (and Alistair Bruce-Ball) talking to BBC Sport ahead of Newcastle v Nottingham Forest:

Chris Sutton:

“It’s great to see Forest back in the Premier League after 23 years and I hope they do well.

“I was born in Nottingham and I was a massive fan of Brian Clough’s European Cup-winning sides when I was growing up. Then I was lucky enough to play under two players from that time, Martin O’Neill and John Robertson, at Celtic.

“Forest could do with a player like Robertson now, but they have made a couple of interesting moves in the transfer market already – Jesse Lingard is a good signing and I like the look of their new Belgian midfielder, Orel Mangala, too. I think they will stay up.

“Newcastle, meanwhile, don’t have to worry about beating the drop this year. Eddie Howe did such a good job there in the second half of last season and, after it looked like they were in a big relegation fight, they stayed up very comfortably in the end.

“Howe played a really good brand of football as well as getting results and I am expecting more of the same this time, although they do need some reinforcements up front.

“They are trying to get James Maddison from Leicester but I don’t quite understand why they have left it so late before the start of the season to go for him, and we will have to wait and see how that one pans out.

“As far as this game goes, it is another tricky one to call – but I am going for Newcastle to edge it because they have got home advantage.

“Prediction is Newcastle 1 Nottingham Forest 0”

Alistair Bruce-Ball:

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“It’s great to have Forest back in the top flight as they were such a thrilling and successful team as I got into my football in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“But Newcastle finished last season strongly under Howe, who improved them significantly at both ends of the field, and I expect them to be too strong for Forest on their return. 

“Prediction is Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 0”

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