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Premier League

  • 26 December 2012
  • • 15:00
  • • Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Referee: M. Dean
  • • Attendance: 75596
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Manchester United - Newcastle Preview: Leaders look for response after Swansea draw

Manchester United - Newcastle Preview: Leaders look for response after Swansea draw

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The Red Devils top the Premier League by four points after drawing at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday, but will have to overcome a Magpies side intent on climbing the table

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

MANCHESTER UNITED

De Gea
Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra
Welbeck, Scholes, Carrick, Young
Van Persie, Hernandez
NEWCASTLE

Krul
Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon
Anita, Perch
Cisse, Marveaux, Gutierrez
Ba

The only real injury problems Sir Alex Ferguson has are in midfield, with Anderson (hamstring) set to miss out until the trip to West Brom on December 29.

Nani (hamstring) and Shinji Kagawa (knee) will most likely return against Steve Clarke's side at the Hawthorns as well, so Sir Alex may well call on the likes of Paul Scholes and Danny Welbeck to fill in the gaps in midfield.

Wayne Rooney could be dropped after a disappointing display at Swansea in which he was substituted, with Chicharito or Danny Welbeck ready to take his place up front.

Alan Pardew has a number of fitness issues to contend with in his squad - Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring) and Dan Gosling (knee) have no set return dates, and are likely to miss the trip to Old Trafford.

Centre-back Steven Taylor (hamstring) is missing until January, while influential midfielder Yohan Cabaye (groin) is out until February and Chiekh Tiote is suspended after he picked up his fifth booking of the season against QPR last time out.

Ryan Taylor (knee) will not be playing until March, and Haris Vukcic (knee) is likely to be out for the rest of the season, so the January transfer window cannot come soon enough for the Newcastle boss.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • Manchester United have 21 points from a total of 24 at home this season, scoring 22 goals in the process.
  • Newcastle have won just once in their last 20 league league meetings with Manchester United, losing 14 and drawing five.
  • However, of the last four meetings between the sides, Sir Alex's men have only won once, with two draws and a victory for Pardew.
  • Newcastle have not won away in the league in eight attempts this season, losing four and drawing four.
  • Newcastle have not won at Old Trafford since 1972, with 30 games having been played in the process.
  • Robin van Persie (pictured, right) has five goals and three assists in his last seven games against Newcastle.
  • The sides last met in October when Sir Alex Ferguson's team won 3-0 at St James' Park.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1David de GeaGoalkeeper
3Patrice EvraDefender
5Rio FerdinandDefender
6Jonny EvansDefender
12Chris SmallingDefender
25Antonio ValenciaMidfielder
16Michael CarrickMidfielder
22Paul ScholesMidfielder
14Javier HernándezStriker
20Robin van PersieStriker
13Anders LindegaardGoalkeeper
15Nemanja VidicDefender
28Alexander BüttnerDefender
31Scott WoottonDefender
23Tom CleverleyMidfielder
24Darren FletcherMidfielder
46Ryan TunnicliffeMidfielder
1Tim KrulGoalkeeper
2Fabricio ColocciniDefender
3Davide SantonDefender
25Danny SimpsonDefender
6Mike WilliamsonDefender
14James PerchMidfielder
8Vurnon AnitaDefender
20Gael BigirimanaMidfielder
22Sylvain MarveauxMidfielder
9Papiss CisséStriker
19Demba BaStriker
21Rob ElliotGoalkeeper
31Shane FergusonDefender
34James TavernierDefender
23Shola AmeobiStriker
25Gabriel ObertanStriker
28Sammy AmeobiStriker
-Adam CampbellStriker
Players to Watch
Patrice Evra
Patrice Evra
Position: Defender
Squad Number: 3
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The France left-back has had a truly odd season so far. It is no secret that the 31-year-old's performances over the last 18 months have been unpredictable, but the seasoned star netted his third goal of the campaign against Swansea on Sunday, showing he seems to be developing a taste for goalscoring at the tail-end of his career. However, the defender was also at fault for the Swans' leveller as he failed to track Wayne Routledge on the wing, and United dropped two points as a result. It is difficult to know which Patrice Evra will turn up on any given day, and as we have seen this season already, goals at either end can depend on the performance he puts in.
Demba Ba
Demba Ba
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 19
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Demba Ba has 11 goals already this season, just one less than Van Persie, and may just fancy adding to that tally at Old Trafford. Sir Alex's side have kept just three clean sheets in the Premier League so far this season and have looked vulnerable at the back, despite the return of Nemanja Vidic. Ba, meanwhile, was frustrated last time out against QPR which may prove added motivation against the league leaders.
Prediction
Sir Alex Ferguson will be smarting from dropping precious points at Swansea last on Sunday, but his side will be fired up to keep their four-point advantage at the top of the league. Alan Pardew's men have been in poor form so far this season, languishing in 15th place after a wonderful 2011-12 campaign. While they overcame QPR 1-0 last weekend, injuries and suspensions have hit the team's confidence hard, and the absence of stars such as Cabaye, Tiote and Ben Arfa should ensure the Red Devils pick up all three points on Boxing Day.
Editor's Prediction

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