Paul Merson’s ‘shock’ Manchester United v Newcastle United prediction and Cristiano Ronaldo call

Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has previewed Sunday’s Premier League clash between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford (2pm kick-off).

Just one place and one point separates Newcastle and Man United in the Premier League table and both teams head into the match in good form.

The Magpies have lost just one of their opening nine matches and have won their last two matches 4-1 and 5-1 respectively. Meanwhile, Manchester United have won five of their last six league games under Erik ten Hag.

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Newcastle may have won just once against The Red Devils at Old Trafford in the last 50 years but Merson is backing Eddie Howe’s side to come away with three points this weekend.

Joelinton of Newcastle United runs with the ball past Jadon Sancho of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St James' Park on December 27, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“I like the way Newcastle are playing at the moment – they absolutely dismantled Fulham [and Brentford] last week,” Merson told Sportskeeda. “You’ve got to give them credit – they’ve got the players and have pace on the counter."

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Merson also believes Cristiano Ronaldo has to start after scoring his 700th career goal against Everton last time out.

The Portuguese icon has never lost to Newcastle in his career, scoring eight goals in 13 matches against The Magpies.

“Erik ten Hag will have to play Cristiano Ronaldo now, won’t he?” Merson added. “Ronaldo, in my opinion, is the best finisher in the world.

"You don’t score 700 goals by not being able to finish. You give him chances, and he scores goals. He makes the hardest things in the world look very easy.

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“I think Casemiro needs some time. There’s a lot yet to come from him. This game is very different to the Everton fixture, and [Manchester] United will need to be at their best.

"I’m not too sure about this game, and that’s a big compliment for Newcastle.

“I’m going to go for a shock this weekend. Newcastle have the players in their team to hurt Manchester United.

"They’ve got the game to beat United, but they’ll need to pick the right pass. If they stick to Eddie Howe’s plan and execute it like they have been over the last couple of weeks, I think they’ll win.”