Manchester United host Newcastle United on Boxing Day as they look to cut down the gap with Chelsea and Manchester City at the top of the table. Having failed to take three points against Aston Villa, United will be keen to win on Friday to give the club and the fans something to cheer about ahead of the hectic holiday schedule.
A six game winning streak for Manchester United came to an end last week as Van Gaal’s men failed to take charge against Aston Villa. However sitting on the third spot on the table, United will be keen to win on Boxing Day to make sure they don’t slip up again.
Van Gaal will be without the services of new signings Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Ander Herrera and Daley Blind along with Fellaini as injuries keep plaguing Old Trafford. United is expected to start with 3 central defenders and two full backs while Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria are likely to start the fixture. Both Falcao and Di Maria haven’t been able to make a strong impact in the league since their arrival and with the approaching holiday fixtures, will be keen to stay injury-free and help United win these crucial ties.
Robin Van Persie, Radamel Falcao and Wayne Rooney will be keen to strike an effective partnership along with Di Maria in order to win against Newcastle. The absence of Fellaini and Herrera leaves United exposed in the central midfield. Though Carrick could have been used in the midfield, he might have to work as the third defender in front of David De Gea. In this case, one can expect Wayne Rooney to drop deep into a holding role with Mata and Angel Di Maria working alongside him. Both Mata and Di Maria will have to be aware of their defensive responsibilities and will have to fall back deep to hold off Newcastle United.
However Van Gaal will not be too concerned with his front line and will be hoping to shore up his struggling defence. Michael Carrick, who was earlier praised by former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, might have to help out Phil Jones and Jonny Evans in the defence. Despite De Gea’s heroics this season, Van Gaal will be aware that he cannot be dependent on his goal-keeper to save the day for him and will look to give him some respite.
Expected Starting Line-Up: De Gea (GK); Evans, Carrick, Jones, Valencia, Young; Rooney, Mata, Di Maria; Falcao, Robin Van Persie
Sitting on the 9th spot in the Premier League table, Alan Pardew has won just one of his last five fixtures, bringing Mourinho’s unbeaten run at Chelsea to an end. Newcastle will be looking for another win against one of the big teams as they visit Old Trafford on Boxing Day.
Tiote will be serving his suspension for this fixture while several other key players remain injured for Newcastle United. Tim Krul, Mehdi Abeid, Rob Elliot, Siem de Jong, Gabriel Obertan, Rolando Aarons and Ryan Taylor remain unavailable due to injuries. However Newcastle will welcome Jonas Gutierrez’s return after the footballer staged a brilliant recovery from cancer. However it remains to be seen if Alan Pardew will risk him so soon after his return to match-fitness.
Newcastle will be hoping to make the most of United’s struggling defence in their bid to win the game at Old Trafford. With Cisse struggling with match-fitness, Ayoze Perez will be expected to lead the team’s attack against Manchester United.
Expected Starting Line Up: Alnwick (GK); Coloccini, Williamson, Dummett, Janmaat; Sissoko, Cabella, Colback, Ameobi, Gouffran; Perez
Manchester United 2-1 Newcastle United
Manchester United will face a severe test against Newcastle United but will be expected to come out on top at Old Trafford.
Player To Watch Out For
Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao have failed to live up to their billing due to a series of injuries. But despite the initial hiccups, all eyes will be on these two Red Devils as Newcastle United visit Old Trafford.
Blast From The Past
The two teams actually faced each other on Boxing Day in the year 2012 in what turned out to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s last year at Manchester United.