Television pundit and former Arsenal star Paul Merson has applauded Salomon Rondon for his impact in transforming Newcastle's team this season.
Rondon struggled at the start of the season after arriving from West Brom in the summer. The Venezuela international had failed to significantly impact the team, struggling to find consistency in the starting 11. He had failed to score and had only contributed one assist, until Newcastle's game against Bournemouth before the international break.
However, Merson credited Rondon's performance in Newcastle's last two games, where he played a full 90 minutes against both Watford and Bournemouth. His two goals against Bournemouth along with a man of the match display led Merson to call the Magpies favourites for Monday evening's clash against relegation rivals Burnley.
Merson told Sky Sports ahead of Newcastle's game against Burnley: “Newcastle will get something out of this game and if somebody said to me, ‘get off the fence,’ then I would go for Newcastle."
When speaking about the Venezuelan, Merson said: "They (Newcastle) have the momentum and they have not been a million miles away, the penny has dropped and he (Rafa Benitez) has put Salomon Rondon in – they needed a focal point, they were too weak, the ball was bouncing back too quick off Joselu, whereas this lad…what a header against Bournemouth.
“You cannot tell me that was not like Malcolm Macdonald or Alan Shearer, brave, put himself across the defender, no one was saving that. Rafa Benitez has taken a bit of time – sometimes he looks like he is chopping his hands off to spite his face.”