Manchester United host Newcastle United on Saturday in what has been one of the biggest fixtures in the history of the Premier League. The two teams are now competing at different ends of the table, but the fixture will have another chapter written this weekend, as it will mark Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford. The focus will be on the Portuguese international, even if the match isn’t being televised in the UK. Meanwhile, the visitors have started the season in poor form. They need to deliver a much better performance if they are to spoil the party.
There will now be pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to lead Manchester United to a title challenge following an impressive summer of spending. They have added three excellent players to improve their starting eleven. Although there has been patience to this point, the board and supporters will be expecting the team to challenge on multiple fronts. The performances against Southampton and Wolves before the international break were not up to standard. If they aren’t better on Saturday, they may not find it as easy as many are expecting it to be.
It has been a tough start to the season for Newcastle United. They have taken only one point from their opening three matches and the performances haven’t given supporters much to be excited about. The club failed to make any additions to their squad during the summer, with the only arrival being Joe Willock. The midfielder was at the club last season. Although he is a great signing, his arrival keeps the squad as strong as it was last season. It didn’t add anything new and that has frustrated supporters. The calls for Steve Bruce’s sacking are growing and his board failed to back him in the summer transfer window. That may suggest they are starting to distance themselves from the head coach. He needs results quickly and a strong performance on Saturday will be key in relieving some pressure on him.
Mason Greenwood is one of only three players to score in three successive Premier League matches this season. The other two are Michail Antonio and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Only Arsenal (9) and Norwich City (10) have conceded more goals than Newcastle United (8) this season.
The focus will be on the returning star this weekend. Manchester United fans will have been dreaming of this moment for a long time. Ronaldo may not be the player he once was, but he remains one of the best players in the world. Last season, he scored 29 goals in Serie A and finished as the league’s top scorer. During the international break, he gave a glimpse of what supporters can expect with two late goals to turn around a game against the Republic of Ireland. There will be those that doubt his ability to take Manchester United back to the very top of the game, but there can be no denying his goal-scoring ability. He will guarantee goals, especially against the weaker sides. Solskjaer’s side can struggle in these matches as we saw before the break. Ronaldo will want to restart his Manchester United career with a bang. Few would back against him doing so.
Newcastle can be a threatening team on the counter attack. Manchester United showed against Wolves that they can struggle against players like Allan Saint-Maximin. Adama Traore was arguably the man of the match, despite being on the losing team. Steve Bruce will be hoping that his own mercurial attacker can have a similar impact on Saturday. This season, he will be looking to improve his attacking numbers. Despite the team’s poor start, the Frenchman has scored once and contributed an assist. He will try to be aggressive in possession and run at Manchester United defenders. Saint-Maximin is averaging 5.7 dribbles per game so far this season. Last season, he scored in this fixture in a losing effort. He will be the player that the home side fear.
Fred will be unavailable for the match due to a FIFA ban given to the midfielder for failing to report for international duty. Jadon Sancho should be fit after leaving the England squad with injury. Marcus Rashford, Alex Telles and Scott McTominay remain on the sidelines.
Isaac Hayden, Paul Dummett and Callum Wilson are all doubts. Miguel Almiron will be missing as a result of the same FIFA ban given to Fred. Martin Dubravka and Jonjo Shelvey won’t be available for the visitors.
Manchester United are the overwhelming favourites to win. Newcastle United have been poor so far and there is little reason to believe they will be able to spoil Ronaldo’s homecoming. They have some good attacking players and should cause problems, but their defence has been very poor. The home side should have too much for Newcastle. Both sides should be able to score, but Solskjaer’s men will take the points.
Manchester United 3-1 Newcastle United