- Premier League
- EFL Championship
- Other Top Clubs
- Scout Reports
The stakes will be high as Manchester United travel to St. James’ Park to face league strugglers Newcastle United this weekend.
After beating bottom club Huddersfield Town last week, the Red Devils will be keen winning back to back games in the Premier League but anything can happen against an unpredictable Newcastle side, who are yet to show their mettle this season, after being promoted to the top flight last year.
The Magpies are currently dawdling on the wrong side of the table with just 25 points on the board. They have a serious chance of getting dipped into the relegation battle this season if they fail to gather points in their upcoming matches. Therefore, Newcastle will be ready to give their hundred percent against a slow but steady Manchester United which has faced many problems throughout the course of the season.
That being said, the Red Devils have the second best side in the league with 56 points, having a healthy 5-point lead over arch-rivals and third-placed Liverpool FC. Anything less than a Champions League finish will be unacceptable for the club’s lofty standards, meaning that three points against Newcastle is more or less imperative for head coach Jose Mourinho.
Defensive solidity at the back is what Jose Mourinho normally brings to the table and this season has been no different. United currently boast the meanest defence in the league, with just 18 goals conceded. Although they still need to make up some ground in the offensive department, Manchester United acquires a highly impressive record of having let their opponents convert only 5.6% of chances created, which is second best in the league.
Just to put things into perspectives, Leicester City, during their title-winning season, recorded roughly around 3.5% while Manchester City, despite leading the league in terms of everything else, records a rather hefty ratio of 9.6% conversion rate. Put simply, the fact that Jose Mourinho manages to acquire such impressive defensive record is a winning formula for any team who has an equally impressive offensive line.
As for Newcastle, it’s been a top-turvy campaign as things have gotten pretty rough following a bright start to the season. The Magpies have only registered two victories in their previous 16 league outings. Therefore, things might get ugly as Newcastle become more and more desperate for a win.
Stats courtesy: Footballintheclouds
Jose Mourinho will have to content without the services of key first-team defender Eric Bailly as well as Zlatan Ibrahimovic. However, the Portuguese will have the privilege of choosing from an almost fully-fit Manchester United squad otherwise.
As for Newcastle, the absence of star forward Islam Slimani will be a huge blow for head coach Rafa Benitez. The Algerian international arrived from Leicester on loan in January but has been sidelined with a thigh muscle strain. Elsewhere, fullback Jesus Gamez will also miss the clash in an otherwise fully-fit Newcastle United roster.
Newcastle United have conceded more Premier League goals against Manchester United than they have against any other club (92) and have only lost as many matches against Arsenal (26).
This will be Newcastle’s 200th PL match played on a Sunday – only Tottenham Hotspur (79), Liverpool and Everton (72 each) have lost more than they have done on this day of the week (70).
Romelu Lukaku has averaged a goal or an assist every 65 minutes against Newcastle in the PL (6 goals, 4 assists in 651 minutes).
Man Utd have won 9 of their last 13 PL matches against Newcastle at St. James’ Park (D3 L1), losing only in January 2012, a 3-0 defeat.
Stats courtesy: Premier League
All eyes will be on Alexis Sanchez, as the Chilean looks to continue his good form, after scoring his first ever goal in Man United colours last week. It will be interesting to see how he links up with the likes of Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku as the Red Devils look to dismantle their opponents this weekend.
David de Gea will also play a crucial role as the Spaniard looks for his 16th clean sheet of the season. His unbelievable shot stopping abilities will prove to be useful for Man United against this unpredictable Newcastle attack.
Last but not the least, Newcastle United’s Dwight Gayle will have the responsibility to provide the attacking incision, following the absence of Islam Slimani. There’s no wonder he’ll play a big role in outmanoeuvring this sturdy defensive line of Manchester United.
Newcastle United (4-4-2 formation): Karl Darlow; De Andre Yedlin, Jamaal Lascelles, Florian Lejeune, Paul Dummett; Matt Ritchie, Mohamed Diame, Jonjo Shelvy, Kenedy; Ayoze Perez, Dwight Gayle.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1 formation): David de Gea; Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw; Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba; Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Alexis Sanchez; Romelu Lukaku.
Though Newcastle have been in poor form of late, it is always a difficult proposition to win an away game in the Premier League. The English top flight is highly unpredictable and any team could win on any given day, irrespective of the size of the clash. Keeping that in mind, I feel that this one could be a close game.
Final score: Newcastle United 0-1 Manchester United