Michael Owen and Newcastle United in the same sentence doesn’t usually make for positive reading in the North East.
After claiming in his new book that he didn’t want to play for the Magpies after signing from Real Madrid as he saw them as a step-down, he isn’t exactly a popular figure in Tyneside anymore.
The spat between Owen and club-legend Alan Shearer in recent weeks has somewhat overshadowed Newcastle’s ability to bounce back from a nightmare first two weeks in the Premier League.
Steve Bruce guided his side to back-to-back defeats, with a 1-0 loss at home to Arsenal being followed by a 3-1 thrashing at the hands of Norwich City the week after.
Despite the defeat at Liverpool at the weekend, Newcastle managed to secure three points away at Tottenham and a draw against Watford beforehand.
Saturday sees Newcastle welcome fellow strugglers, Brighton, to St James’ Park with Bruce already admitting to the Chronicle that the game against the Seagulls is an early relegation six-pointer.
Owen has predicted a lacklustre game in the North East, claiming there won’t be many goals (Under 1.5) in the game and expects limited chances in a tense meeting between the pair.
“Newcastle were eventually well beaten at Anfield on Saturday, but Steve Bruce will have taken several positives from the game although they continue to struggle to create opportunities,” he wrote on his BetVictor blog.
“I don’t expect to see many goals or chances when Brighton – who have only scored twice in the league since the opening day of the season – visit St James’ Park in what is likely to be a tight, tense, close affair.”
Newcastle will be looking to prove Owen wrong, with a convincing result that could set them up with confidence and kickstart a successful campaign.
Despite only scoring four goals in their five games, the Magpies have averaged 10 shots on goal in each outing according to WhoScored, and could easily score multiple goals should they improve their efficiency.
Should Newcastle get an early goal and get the St James’ Park faithful rocking, then they could be on track for a successful afternoon on Saturday, with the chance to prove Owen wrong surely one the squad are relishing.