By Russell Edge

12th Dec, 2017 | 11:21am

Owen identifies Newcastle's critical weakness in prediction v Everton

Former Newcastle United striker Michael Owen has said that the club have got to sort out their defensive issues if they want to avoid getting wound up in a relegation battle this season.

The Magpies are on a dreadful run of form, having tasted defeat in six of their last seven matches, with the other result a 2-2 draw against West Brom, giving them a total of one point from a possible 21.

As a result of their winless streak, they have slipped down the table into 16th, just two points and two places above the relegation zone, with a clash against Everton to come on Wednesday.

The Toffees have picked up their performances in recent weeks, having gone unbeaten in their last three games, securing a 1-1 draw against Merseyside rivals Liverpool at Anfield in their last outing.

Analysing Wednesday’s clash, Owen has identified that Newcastle’s critical weakness lies at the back, having conceded 17 goals in their last seven matches, while he says Everton face a fight to overcome Rafael Benitez, who has never lost at home to the Toffees.

Predicting a draw for both sides, he wrote on his blog for BetVictor: “Rafa Benitez will have been disappointed to concede three at home to a good Leicester side at the weekend and they must improve defensively if they don’t want to get embroiled in a relegation battle.

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“That said Everton were poor at Anfield despite picking up a valuable point on Sunday and Benitez has never lost a home PL game against the Blues.

“I expect that run to continue midweek although both sides may have to settle for a point.”

Everton have won six of the last seven matches between the two sides, with Ross Barkley netting a double from the penalty spot during a 3-0 win in the last showdown between the clubs.

In other Newcastle United news, Mark Lawrenson has delivered a damning verdict ahead of Wednesday’s showdown.

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