After watching an Alexis Sanchez-inspired Manchester United see off Huddersfield Town last week, Jose Mourinho will be hoping his side can register another win at Newcastle United on Sunday to keep some distance between themselves and the rest of the Champions League chasers.
United have won six of their seven games in 2018 so far, but as they head to the north-east they have the dreadful 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in their last away fixture still reasonably fresh in the mind.
MAN UTD INJURIES
Marouane Fellaini misses out after undergoing surgery on his troublesome left knee. The Belgian is likely to be absent until the end of March, ruling him out of at least nine fixtures in all competition.
Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are still out with ankle and knee issues respectively, with both slated for a potential return towards the end of February. Daley Blind has yet to play after picking up a slight muscle injury in training in January but the Dutchman is now fit and available.
MAN UTD SUSPENSIONS
United have no suspension issues, and the same is true of Rafa Benitez's side.
MAN UTD POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP
Mourinho could plump for a largely unchanged side from the one which beat Huddersfield Town last weekend, although his midfield selection will be one to keep a close eye on after he preferred Scott McTominay to Paul Pogba against the Terriers.
McTominay and Nemanja Matic completed 222 passes between them last week, but Pogba could provide a more dynamic presence in the middle should the Portuguese decide he needs to be more exploitative of space between the lines at St James' Park.
As ever, the manager will have a question to answer in the attacking midfield line after leaving out Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial last time out, but Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard have both been in reasonable form of late and may again be given the nod to start alongside the marauding Alexis Sanchez.
NEWCASTLE TEAM NEWS
So far this season it has all been about keeping heads above water for Newcastle United. Having been given few resources against the backdrop of a curtailed takeover attempt, Rafa Benitez has arguably done a fantastic job to guide the Magpies to 16th after 26 rounds. However, in one of the closest and most congested relegation battles in living memory, Newcastle still have a lot of work to do to ensure themselves of Premier League football next term.
Benitez should be able to welcome back striker Joselu after he was forced to sit out the trip to Crystal Palace last week, but in truth the Spaniard's return of just four goals in 24 games is emblematic of the club's issues at this point in time. They have netted only 24 goals in 26 matches thus far, and Joselu's penalty miss against Burnley in their last home game was their first spot-kick award all season. They will need to be better at taking their chances if they are to see off Manchester United.
Newcastle should have Kenedy available, and the Brazilian has made a decent impact after arriving on loan from Chelsea. Meanwhile, Islam Slimani could make his debut after coming in on a short-term deal from Leicester City.
TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME
The match at St James' Park kicks off at 14:15 GMT on Sunday, with live coverage available in the UK on Sky Sports Premier League.
BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS
Newcastle have won two of their last 28 Premier League games against Man Utd (D7 L19), failing to win any of their last six (D2 L4).
Newcastle have conceded more Premier League goals against Man Utd than they have vs any other club (92) and only lost as many games against Arsenal (26).
Meanwhile, Manchester United have won more away Premier League games at St. James’ Park than any other club (12).
The Magpies are winless in eight Premier League home games (D3 L5) – only once have they had a longer such run in the competition (9, ending in August 1999).
Only against Alex Ferguson (8) has Rafael Benitez lost more times against a single manager in the Premier League than he has vs Jose Mourinho (6 – level with Arsene Wenger).
Jose Mourinho has never won a Premier League match at St. James’ Park (P6 W0 D3 L3) and has managed more away league games at Newcastle without winning than at any other club in his managerial career; although he has won two League Cup matches there, in November 2004 and December 2006.
Romelu Lukaku has averaged a goal or assist every 65 minutes against Newcastle United in the Premier League (six goals, four assists in 651 minutes).
Newcastle are the only Premier League side that Alexis Sanchez has faced more than twice without scoring against (four games), although he assisted twice against them in December 2014.