Following defeat at home to Everton on Wednesday, Manchester United will be desperate to take three points when they entertain Newcastle at Old Trafford on Saturday (12:45 GMT, live on BT Sport).
United are ninth in the Premier League table with 22 points from six wins, four draws and four defeats. They had gone 12 matches undefeated in all competitions prior to Wednesday’s defeat, albeit without always convincing with the quality of their performances.
David Moyes is yet to truly make his mark on the title-winning team he inherited from Sir Alex Ferguson this summer, and defeat to his former employers again brought his side’s deficiencies to the fore. The most notable problem area is midfield, where Everton easily dominated a one-paced pairing of Marouane Fellaini and Ryan Giggs.
Fellaini was United’s one major signing this summer and the £27.5 million they spent to reunite him with his former Everton boss currently looks a severe overvaluation. The Belgian international has struggled to impose himself and lacks either the energy or creative ability to suggest he is the long-term answer to the club’s midfield problems.
One change that has been apparent since Moyes’ arrival is the greater emphasis on wing play, with Man Utd attacking down the flanks more regularly than last season. Yet while Patrice Evra has performed well moving forward from left-back, and Rafael has the attributes to provide similar thrust down the right, United’s wingers have failed to produce.
Between them, the five wingers Moyes has selected so far this season have managed five goals and two assists in 14 league matches. Evra, by himself, has two assists to his name, while strikers Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney have contributed 15 goals and six assists. Moyes must either get more from his wide men or change his tactical approach.
Van Persie was expected to feature in midweek, but missed out due to a groin injury that renders him doubtful for this match. His strike partner, Rooney, will definitely be absent after picking up his fifth booking of the season on Wednesday. Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick are sidelined through injury, but Phil Jones returns from suspension.
Newcastle are currently seventh in the table, one point ahead of their hosts on Saturday, with 23 points from seven wins, two draws and five defeats. They were on a four-match winning streak, including victories at home to Chelsea and away to Tottenham Hotspur, before losing 3-0 away to Swansea on Wednesday.
Swansea controlled possession, with Newcastle making little attempt to disrupt their rhythm. The Magpies were content to sit deep and counter, but were rarely able to get Loic Remy, scorer of eight goals in 11 appearances prior to Wednesday’s match, into the game. They were deserved losers despite some questionable officiating.
Coach Alan Pardew (pictured) came under heavy criticism after Newcastle’s defeat to Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby at the end of October. A solid start to the season, and the strong run of form that followed that defeat, have, despite the loss to Swansea, put the club in a good position in the build up to Christmas.
Newcastle only added one player (Remy) to their squad over the summer, but having spent in the region of £20 million on six new players in January, such frugality was perhaps to be expected. Given time to adapt, the likes of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Mathieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran have established themselves as first team regulars this season.
Hatem Ben Arfa was omitted from the squad for Wednesday’s match, reportedly due to illness, but should return for this game. Papiss Demba Cisse will face a late fitness test on a heel injury, while Ryan Taylor will definitely miss out due to his long-term knee injury.
Man Utd vs Newcastle Betting Tips Verdict
United emerged as 4-3 victors in last season’s equivalent fixture, with Javier Hernandez scoring the 90th minute winner. They have won three of the last five league meetings between the sides at Old Trafford, while Newcastle have not won away at United since 1972.
Man Utd have been far from stellar at Old Trafford so far this season, losing twice, drawing twice and only once winning by more than one goal. Newcastle, who have won away at Cardiff and Tottenham already this season, will look to sit deep and hit United on the break, making use of Remy’s pace.
With Rooney suspended and Van Persie doubtful, Newcastle will get few opportunities as good as this to take a result away from Old Trafford. Even if they are unable to do so, we do not expect them to lose by a large margin.
- Back Newcastle +1 on the Asian Handicap @ 23/20 with Bet365. The bet pays out if Newcastle win or draw. Your stake is returned if they lose by a single goal
- Remy’s eight goals include a double in the win away to Cardiff and the only goal in the victory away at Spurs. With good movement and outright pace he is always a threat on the counter attack and Manchester United have struggled to deal with similar threats this season. Back Loic Remy to score at anytime @ best odds of 15/4 at Bet365.