Manchester United - Newcastle Preview: Leaders look for response after Swansea draw
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
By Tom J Doyle
Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra
Welbeck, Scholes, Carrick, Young
Van Persie, Hernandez
Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon
Cisse, Marveaux, Gutierrez
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 Magpies have lost six of their last eight Premier League games. They are 28/1 to win 1-0 with William Hill.
- The sides last met in October when Sir Alex Ferguson's team won 3-0 at St James' Park.
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Top 3 Predictions
Man Utd. 3-1 Newcastle
- 20.73 %
Man Utd. 3-0 Newcastle
- 11.96 %
Man Utd. 2-0 Newcastle
- 8.36 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Apr 5, 2014||Newcastle 0 - Man Utd. 4|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Dec 7, 2013||Man Utd. 0 - Newcastle 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Dec 26, 2012||Man Utd. 4 - Newcastle 3|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Oct 7, 2012||Newcastle 0 - Man Utd. 3|
|England - Capital One Cup(League Cup) (CCUP)||Sep 26, 2012||Man Utd. 2 - Newcastle 1|
|Apr 9, 2014||FC Bayern München 3 - Man Utd. 1||UCL|
|Apr 5, 2014||Newcastle 0 - Man Utd. 4||EPL|
|Apr 1, 2014||Man Utd. 1 - FC Bayern München 1||UCL|
|Mar 29, 2014||Man Utd. 4 - Aston Villa 1||EPL|
|Mar 25, 2014||Man Utd. 0 - Manchester City FC 3||EPL|
|1||David de Gea||Goalkeeper|
|14||Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez||Striker|
|20||Robin van Persie||Striker|
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.
The combative midfielder will be tasked with disrupting the home's side's penetrative passing from the likes of Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick, and will be a vital presence in the middle for the visitors. The Ivory Coast international has had his fair share of disciplinary problems while at St James' Park, with eight yellows and a red card in 16 total appearances this season already. He will need to be both aggressive and disciplined in order to stifle Sir Alex Ferguson's side, but if he can keep his cool and remain on the field for 90 minutes then Newcastle could well get something from this game.
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 and Ben Arfa should ensure the Red Devils pick up all three points on Boxing Day.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed