Paul Merson shoots down Jeff Stelling claim that Newcastle would 'adore' Burnley star
Paul Merson has shot down claims from Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling that Newcastle United fans would “adore” having a striker like Burnley’s Chris Wood at the club.
The two sides face off at Turf Moor on Sunday lunchtime, with both looking to pick up a valuable three points in their respective quests for Premier League survival.
Steve Bruce should be able to welcome top scorer Callum Wilson back into his starting XI for the clash following a lengthy absence through injury that has emphasised his importance to the Magpies’ survival hopes.
The Toon Army have scored just five goals in seven Premier League matches since the 29-year-old picked up a hamstring complaint against Southampton back in February, with centre-back Jamal Lascelles registering two of those strikes.
And looking ahead to this weekend’s showdown with the Clarets, Stelling believes that Sean Dyche’s men possess a threat who would do wonders if he ever moved to Tyneside.
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Speaking on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday, the host said: “I can’t help but think, if you look at the other side this weekend, Chris Wood cost £15 million.
"He’s got 41 in 119 for Burnley.
"Newcastle fans would absolutely adore a centre forward like Chris Wood, wouldn’t they?”
Pundit Paul Merson wasn’t entirely convinced, however, and suggested that the reason Wood is such a key player for Burnley is because they know how to utilise his strengths in a way that Newcastle perhaps wouldn’t.
Responding to Stelling, he said: “I’m not sure. Chris Wood ticks every box for Burnley.
"If you have Chris Wood, you want to play the Burnley way. If you’re a big centre-forward, you get in the box, the ball comes in, they play 4-4-2, they don’t mess about, they put the ball in the box.
"One of the goals they scored against Southampton [in last weekend’s 3-2 defeat] was a 1980s goal.
"He ticks the boxes.
"If Joelinton was at Burnley, he would score goals. They would play to his strengths. If you’re a big centre-forward at Burnley, you will score goals. They work on percentages.”
So far this season, Wood has scored seven goals in 25 Premier League outings.
Merson went on to hail Burnley for their pragmatic tactical approach and Dyche's insistence on playing in a way that gets the best out of his squad.
He added: “They just get the ball out wide and put great deliveries in. They play to their strengths. That's why I like Burnley.
"They've got their team and they go, 'what are we good at?'.
"They've got a good centre forward who's brilliant in the air, willing to run, holds it up. They've got Vydra who comes in and is willing to run, they've got Barnes who is an absolute handful, they've got two wingers who put the ball in, and they play to it.”
As per Whoscored, Burnley have averaged 19 crosses per game in the Premier League this season.
Despite Merson’s claims, that figure is not particularly high, and puts them joint-ninth in the division for deliveries into the box per 90 minutes.