Newcastle’s last-gasp win over Nottingham Forest on Friday Night Football has pulled Manchester United into a “real fight” for a top-four finish, says Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher.
Alexander Isak scored twice – including a stoppage-time penalty – at Forest as Newcastle won for the first time this season when coming from behind to make it back-to-back victories as they moved to within three points of third-placed Man Utd, who they play next in the Premier League at St James’ Park after the international break.
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“What that result does is bring Manchester United back into the pack in terms of the top four positions,” Carragher told Sky Sports.
“I think for a long time we’ve felt that United were guaranteed to be in the top four – Gary Neville went as far to say they would finish second.
“But now it looks like they’re in a real fight now to be in the top four, especially with Newcastle playing Manchester United next.”
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Newcastle boss Eddie Howe will be taking some of his squad to Dubai during the international break as he turns his attentions to their huge match against Man Utd on April 2, live on Sky Sports.
“I don’t know if this break will be a bad thing for them because they are in such good form,” added Carragher.
“That game against Man Utd feels huge, I think if they could win that, I mean psychologically bringing Man Utd right back into the race for the top four race – and not just for them but the other contenders.”
Nev: Liverpool, Spurs have more experience
Manchester United are not in Premier League action before the international break because of their FA Cup quarter-final against Fulham at Old Trafford on Sunday.
With the Carabao Cup winners still fighting on three fronts and manager Erik ten Hag facing a number of selection headaches due to injuries and suspension, Man Utd face a much tougher schedule than Newcastle.
Man Utd's next six fixtures
- Man Utd vs Fulham – FA Cup – Sunday
- Newcastle vs Man Utd – Premier League – April 2, live on Sky Sports
- Man Utd vs Brentford – Premier League – April 5
- Man Utd vs Everton – Premier League – April 8
- Man Utd vs Sevilla – Europa League – April 13
- Nottingham Forest vs Man Utd – Premier League – April 16, live on Sky Sports
But Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville believes the Magpies will not have enough to challenge with Liverpool, Tottenham and Man Utd for the two remaining top four spot up for grabs.
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“Newcastle have got a clear run until the end of the season,” said Neville. “United have progressed in the FA Cup and the Europa League makes it more difficult for them with the fact that they’ve Casemiro suspended for the next four matches, which is a big difference.
“Newcastle with these last two wins are in a position whereby they’ll have a real go at it.
“But I still think Liverpool, Tottenham and United have got a little bit more experience.
“This is the time to hit form. Eddie Howe won’t be getting carried away but he’ll be a lot more confident after this week.”
Carra: Unrest at Liverpool, Spurs helps Newcastle
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe praises match-winner Alexander Isak’s performance at Nottingham Forest
Carragher is in disagreement with Neville and thinks Newcastle are better-placed than Tottenham and Liverpool to secure a top-four finish.
“What I would say about Tottenham and Liverpool – the two teams Gary probably fancies to finish above Newcastle – it feels like there is a bit of unrest at both clubs,” said Carragher.
“You look at Tottenham with the manger and Liverpool at the moment producing performances you can’t quite believe. I don’t think you get that with Newcastle. When I watch them and they don’t win it is still a really good performance – they went to Man City and the chances they missed.
“I very rarely watch Newcastle and feel unimpressed.”