Paul Merson – Strange analysis on whether Newcastle United can build on their opening day success

Paul Merson has been discussing Newcastle United ahead of the upcoming weekend action.

Eddie Howe and his players travel to the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

Newcastle started with an excellent dominant display against Forest, a clean sheet and two goal win, though it could easily have been four or five.

Brighton started their season with an even more impressive match, going to Old Trafford and winning 2-1.

It remains to be seen as the season progresses, whether Forest are really poor or just ran into a really good Newcastle team / performance? Likewise, whilst Brighton’s win at Old Trafford will be good in any circumstances, are Man Utd going to prove as poor as they looked on Sunday, as they move into the season?

As for Brighton and Newcastle United, Paul Merson sees them as two pretty even teams going into Saturday’s match, which is fair enough.

However, he makes a pretty strange choice when picking out the key player from the 22 likely to contest this match.

Paul Merson pointing to Danny Welbeck as the biggest factor, both in tomorrow’s game and over the course of this entire Brighton season. Paul Merson declaring ‘If he plays all 38 Premier League games for Brighton, you know they’ll be all right.’

No disrespect to Danny Welbeck but that just doesn’t make any sense. He isn’t a bad player but has only scored six Premier League goals in each of the past two seasons. Indeed, Graham Potter has not even seen Welbeck as anything like an automatic first team choice these past two years, starting 32 PL games and named on the bench in 20.

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The last time Danny Welbeck scored more than six PL goals in a season was way back in 2013/14 when he got nine for Man Utd.

Brighton have got some really good players and of course an excellent manager, but I think their hopes of doing at least as well as, or even better than, last season, rests on getting a regular goalscorer in the remains of this transfer window. Yet again they have sold a player for big money and made a massive pressure, Cucurella leaving for £60m, so can they use a big chunk of that to get a quality striker?

Whatever happens, it is the current Brighton players who will make up the team that plays Newcastle.

Pascal Gross scored both goals against Man Utd and they massively need to improve their goalscoring stats, last season only Wolves and the bottom three scored less than Brighton.

Paul Merson predicts a draw in Saturday’s game and it will be an interesting test of just what we might be able to expect / hope for this season.

Brighton only won five PL home matches last season and only three other Premier League clubs won less, Graham Potter’s side picking up more points (29) on their travels than at home (22). A suspicion maybe that Potter’s tactics work far better when the other team are showing more attacking intent.

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Eddie Howe found all kinds of different ways to beat various oppositions last season and indeed beat 11 of the other 12 clubs that finished outside the top seven, Watford the only exception.

At home to Brighton, Newcastle only had 32% possession and yet were the better team, scoring twice in the first fourteen minutes and despite a set-piece second half consolation from Lewis Dunk, the visitors struggled to create clear chances.

Newcastle United now have Callum Wilson back in the team as a potent goal threat, as well as Kieran Trippier back available, NUFC looking stronger arguably than when putting that run together late last season.

In the second half of last season, Brighton picked up 24 points compared to Newcastle’s 38. I think that with the likes of Bruno and Joelinton in midfield, if Wilson and ASM play well on Saturday then Newcastle can get the win. The defence looked excellent last week and Forest didn’t manage a single shot on target and only had one corner.

Newcastle had 23 shots last week, including 10 on target, hopefully this weekend we may see a few more opportunities taken if / when they present themselves.

Even though he played hardly any part in that second half of the season run and only scored in one of those last 19 games, I think Callum Wilson is the player involved in tomorrow’s match that the Paul Merson comments would have been better applied to (for Newcastle). Certainly, if Wilson was able to start all of Newcastle’s 38 PL games this season, I think the NUFC fanbase would be pretty confident, as he scored at an average rate of just better than a goal every other game.

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Paul Merson speaking to Sportskeeda:

“Both these teams got very good results in the Premier League last week.

“Newcastle achieved an impressive victory and were dominant against Nottingham Forest.

“They took a lot of shots and there was plenty of action.

“They just need to be more ruthless and put their chances away.

“Brighton will count on Danny Welbeck this season – he’s a very good footballer who’s played for England.

“If Welbeck stays fit, he’s a good player. If he plays all 38 Premier League games for Brighton, you know they’ll be all right. But who’s to say he’ll stay fit?

“I think these two teams are on a level footing and there’s not a lot between them.

“Newcastle and Brighton are evenly matched at the moment and could play out a draw this weekend.

“Prediction is Brighton 1 Newcastle 1”

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