Manchester United welcome Newcastle United on Sunday, in what is one of the most historic fixtures in Premier League history. For the last few years, the two teams have been competing in different parts of the division, but that could change now. The takeover that has taken place in the North East means that they could once again be challengers at the top of the division. If they do manage to progress as they hope, this fixture could become even more attractive in future seasons.
It has been a mixed start for Erik ten Hag at Manchester United. The last week has seen the club win back to back matches in two competitions. The performance in the Europa League was impressive, as they created a lot of chances, but it required a stoppage time winner to grab the three points. They will not be able to be as profligate this weekend, as Newcastle have only lost once this season and they will be a difficult test for the new regime at Old Trafford. With tough games ahead for the home side, they need to win this weekend to maintain touch with the leading pack.
There is a lot more positivity on Tyneside, as they have been one of the best performing teams in the Premier League. Newcastle have scored nine goals in the last two weeks and they look to be a very dangerous attacking outfit. They are placed in the top six and Eddie Howe will be feeling that his team could have even more points. That speaks to how well they have been playing since the first week of the season. This is a big test of their European credentials. If they manage to win at Old Trafford, it will announce them as a serious team.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored seven goals in his last five Premier League matches against Newcastle. If he matches the two goals he scored in this fixture last season, he will reach 500 career league goals.
Newcastle have only managed to win one of their last 39 away matches against Manchester United across all competitions.
It has been a positive start to the season for Marcus Rashford and he will be looking forward to facing Newcastle. They are a team that he has done well against in previous seasons. In his eight Premier League matches against Newcastle, he has scored four and assisted three. That previous positive experience means that he will be confident for the weekend. Although Newcastle are a much improved team under Howe, they do leave spaces for the opposition team to counter into. If Manchester United can dominate the central areas and win the ball back high up the pitch, Rashford could have an excellent afternoon. This season, he has three goals and two assists in the Premier League. He will want a strong few weeks to put himself in contention for the World Cup. Currently, the forward is on the outside looking in, but he has the ability to put himself on the plane to Qatar.
There have been a lot of good signings made by Newcastle since their takeover. However, the best has undoubtedly been Bruno Guimaraes and he reminded the world of his abilities last weekend. The Brazilian was the man of the match against Brentford, as he delivered a complete midfield performance. He was excellent at winning the ball back and he grabbed two goals. When he was signed from Lyon, he wasn’t known for his goal-scoring, but he has been a regular scorer in the Premier League. He will believe he should be starting for Brazil in Qatar and a strong performance against Manchester United would help him in that aim. The home side may watch him on Sunday and have some regrets about not rivalling Newcastle, as he would immediately upgrade their midfield.
Anthony Martial is a doubt for the weekend, which means Cristiano Ronaldo could be given a start in the Premier League. Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Donny van der Beek are expected to miss out. Not would have been likely to start even if they were fit.
Allan Saint-Maximin is pushing for a start, after making his return from injury last weekend. Jonjo Shelvey and Alexander Isak are close to returns, but neither will feature this weekend.
This is going to be a very difficult game for Manchester United. They played a near full strength team during the week and have just two days to recover. Considering Newcastle are now one of the most active and effective pressing teams in the league, it will be a huge test for the fitness of the home team. They have faced problems against pressing teams this season, with Brentford, Brighton and Manchester City exposing their issues in possession. They will need to show big improvements this weekend to win the game. It could be a very rare win for Newcastle at Old Trafford.
Manchester United 1-2 Newcastle United