HomeFeatured ArticlesManchester United v Newcastle Preview | Key Men, Stats & Team News

Manchester United v Newcastle Preview | Key Men, Stats & Team News

The traditional Boxing Day match sees a Manchester United now in title contention host Newcastle who are fresh off another derby defeat.

After a tricky opening to the season as both manager and players were adapting to another change, van Gaal’s tactics are now producing results. United have yet to hit a consistent run of impressive performances, but despite not always playing well they have picked up results. That, however, wasn’t the case against Aston Villa last Saturday when they drew 1-1 and struggled to break down the Midlands team who were down to 10 men for over half an hour. This ended a run of 6 straight wins that has propelled them into 3rd place and a tough run of fixtures of the festive period – starting at home to Newcastle before travelling to Tottenham and Stoke – will test the United squad.


Newcastle United have become almost predictable in their results during a season as the main aim is to collect the luscious money from the Premier League and avoid the ‘perils’ of battling in Europe and domestic cups. With their impressive run of form – 7 victories in 9 matches – firing them into the top half the brakes have gone on again and the last few matches have seen heavy defeats to both North London sides and against Sunderland on Sunday. You obviously can’t win every match, but the team selections and tactics have been questioned by fans and their performances over the next month will see whether the ‘Pardew Out’ signs will be appearing once more.

Team News

A number of players could return for the home side after missing last weekend with Fellaini returning from illness, while Rojo and Smalling are slight doubts. The match comes too early for Luke Shaw as well as Blind and Herrera.

Newcastle have gained an extensive injury list over the last few weeks and both 1st and 2nd choice goalkeepers – Tim Krul and Rob Elliot – are out for another few weeks. Abeid has a small chance of making the squad but remains very doubtful, while Tiote is suspended after picking up his 5th yellow against Sunderland. Others that are ruled out are Ryan Taylor, Aarons, Obertan, De Jong, and Santon.

Key Players

Wayne Rooney

Against Aston Villa last weekend, finishing was an issue for Manchester United and it ended costing them. Wayne Rooney played in a deeper role due to midfield injury problems, but with the fitness of Falcao – who played 90 minutes at Villa Park – still needing to be monitored it is likely Rooney plays in a more advanced position.

The Manchester United captain has yet to reach top form this season as the balance in the United side effecting the overall performance of the team. Rooney has scored 6 goals from 34 shots – a conversion rate of 18% – while his willingness to drop deeper to a play a part in the early stages of the move has seen him create 19 chances with 3 assists. To avoid dropping points on title rivals for the next second consecutive match, Rooney’s influence will need to be felt at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

Jack Colback

With an need to turn around their form, Newcastle will need to show a strong resilience in order to leave Old Trafford with anything. This means the midfield will have to put in a committed and professional performance in order to give good cover to their defence making them hard to break down as a team like Aston Villa did.

With injuries and suspension taking their toll, the responsible be left at Jack Colback’s feet. The midfielder has made 32 successful tackles and 35 interceptions this season. While he doesn’t have the strength and tenacity of Tiote – some would call reckless – Colback is better than his teammate with the ball at his feet and replicated his passing form from this season – 89% passing accuracy – will be important if Newcastle are going to keep the ball and make sure they do not just invite pressure upon themselves by conceding possession cheaply.

Interesting Statistics

Manchester United have the best average passing accuracy in the Premier League with 85.8%.

The Red Devils dominace at home can be seen in the average possession at Old Trafford this season with a percentage of 61.3% – only Arsenal better that.

Manchester United have conceded once in their last 4 home matches.

Their defeat against Sunderland on Sunday was Newcastle 4th successive defeat in the Tyne-Wear derby – the first time this has ever happened.


After their blip last weekend, Manchester United will return to winning ways against an injury-hit Newcastle.

Manchester United 3 Newcastle 0

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