Both of these sides will want to move on from their first half of the season and hope for improvement as the Premier League resumes after the FA Cup Third Round. They have differing ambitions at the moment, but this fixture has provided some of the best Premier League moments and it is always an entertaining match to watch. The home side have been unlucky in recent weeks and find themselves in the relegation zone, making the next few matches crucial. This fixture would normally be a bonus game for the club, yet this season it feels like a must win after three successive defeats in the league. Meanwhile Manchester United need to put a run of wins together in order to consolidate themselves in the top four.
Newcastle United are in 18th position, but remain two points from safety. 2015 was a year to forget for them and their performance against Arsenal will give them confidence that this year will be a lot better. Steve McClaren is making progress in terms of performance levels. However, it is obvious that the club lack quality in the final third, scoring just 19 goals in their 20 matches this season. They will be looking to correct that in January with Loic Remy and Saido Berahino both being heavily linked with a move to St James’ Park.
Manchester United are looking to consolidate their place as one of the top four sides in the division in Louis van Gaal’s second season in charge. The criticism of the Dutchman has been harsh at times as he has a very difficult task to rebuild the club after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. A second successive top four finish would represent success for the club as they still lack the quality and depth to challenge for the title, as shown by the current injury crisis.
Last season, this fixture ended in a 1-0 win for the visitors with Ashley Young scoring a fortuitous goal after Tim Krul kicked the ball straight to him. Newcastle were the better side on the day and will be hoping for a similar performance this week. In the meeting earlier this season, the sides couldn’t be split with the match ending 0-0. Although Manchester United dominated for large portions of the game.
Newcastle have only scored seven times in their last ten league matches, failing to score in half of those matches.
Manchester United are not doing much better in front of goal, only managing to score in six of their last ten league matches.
Aleksandar Mitrovic has come in for a lot of criticism lately, due to his poor form in front of goal. He had several good chances in the matches against Arsenal and Everton, but he failed to make them count, which has led to Newcastle’s striker search being given priority. This match could be his last chance to impress before a new striker is brought in and he must make the most of it. Manchester United aren’t the best in the air, with their defenders being the type of players that the Serb really should bully. It was always going to be a slow process for Mitrovic to settle in the Premier League and play his best football, and Newcastle have perhaps wanted too much too soon from the forward. His return of three goals and one assist from 16 games isn’t great, but in the long term, this experience will be invaluable and I fully expect him to develop into a wonderful Premier League forward. However, Newcastle need players for right now given their precarious position in the league table and a match winning performance from their Serbian forward wouldn’t go amiss.
Chris Smalling has had one of his best seasons as a Manchester United player, and he was severely missed when he was injured last month. He is pushing his claims to be a regular for England and could even be a long term option to captain both his club and country when Wayne Rooney’s time has passed. He hasn’t returned to top form since he came back from his injury, but he will be very important this week as he will be given the task of keeping Aleksandar Mitrovic quiet. Newcastle have been creating more chances in recent weeks and Mitrovic has the quality to cause problems aerially. Smalling isn’t the best aerially, but he has the experience to mark Mitrovic out of the match. Manchester United need to find their defensive form again as they have looked penetrable in the last few matches, which will be a concern for Louis van Gaal as the club struggles to score goals. Their best chance of securing a top four finish will be to keep it tight at the back and nick games by one or two goals as the attacking ability isn’t at the club.
Emmanuel Riviere, Jack Colback and Rolando Aarons could all return to the match squad after various injury problems. Vurnon Anita, Papiss Cisse and Steven Taylor all remain a few weeks away from returning.
Bastian Schweinsteiger is a doubt for the midweek fixture after picking up a knock in the FA Cup. Phil Jones, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Antonio Valencia are all still some time away from a return.
This is a tough game to predict as Newcastle have unquestionably been playing better than their more illustrious opponents in recent weeks. However they struggle to convert performances into wins, which is something that Manchester United are still able to do. Newcastle normally up their performance levels against the bigger teams with good wins over Tottenham and Liverpool already recorded this season. I think they will be a tough test for Manchester United and a draw looks most likely with both teams looking poor in front of goal.
Newcastle United 0-0 Manchester United