Ex-Liverpool man assesses Newcastle’s top four hopes with strange ‘skin of their teeth’ comment

Former Liverpool and England defender Glen Johnson has assessed Newcastle United’s chances of securing a top four finish in the Premier League this season.

Newcastle sit third in the table with the season paused due to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Eddie Howe’s side have picked up 30 points from 15 games and have won their last five in a row.

The Magpies’ only defeat so far this season came at the hands of Liverpool at Anfield. Fabio Carvalho scored a 98th minute winner to secure a 2-1 win for The Reds after Alexander Isak had given United the lead.

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And Johnson – who played 200 games for Liverpool between 2009 and 2015 while also representing England 54 times – doesn’t believe Newcastle can sustain their Champions League qualification charge until the end of the season.

Newcastle United's Swiss defender Fabian Schar (L) celebrates after the final whistle of the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Chelsea at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on November 12, 2022. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

“I think it's too early to talk about [top four for Newcastle],” Johnson said via Bookies Bonuses. “They stayed up last year by the skin of their teeth.

“They've been in unbelievable form at the moment and that takes some doing, so they need the credit.”

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Although Newcastle were locked in a relegation battle for the majority of last season, they ended the campaign in 11th, 14 points clear of the bottom three. Eddie Howe’s side were in fact closer to the Europa League qualification than they were to the relegation zone last season, so maybe not quite ‘skin of their teeth’ as Johnson put it.

Newcastle’s fine form hasn’t just been reserved to the current campaign, their form in 2022 as a whole puts them up there with the Premier League’s best. In 33 league matches, United have amassed 65 points – only Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City boast a better record this calendar year.

Still, Johnson isn’t optimistic about Newcastle’s chances of breaking into the top four.

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“I don't think they're going to finish in the top four,” he added. “To kick on and really challenge these top, top teams - it takes some doing.

“Anyone can do it for three months, but to do it over the course of a season and then do it again a season after, then you need to be a serious team and a serious squad.”