article-2373176-1AEFD13F000005DC-328_148x152NEWCASTLE UNITEDManchester_United_FC_crest_(c)_en(dot)wikipedia(dot)org

VS

MANCHESTER UNITED

 

St. James’ Park, Newcastle

March 4th, 2015 GMT 19:45

*****

a I will love it if we beat them! Love it!a , screamed Kevin Keegan as Manchester United geared up to lock horns with Newcastle United at St. Jamesa Park with the two clubs locked in a two horse race for the Premier League title, 20 long years ago. Since then, the rivalry between these two clubs may have faded, but if you ask the fans, this fixture still has more meaning than most other fixtures.

The agendas and the minimum objectives for each club have certainly changed since then, with the Red Devils now aiming for a Championsa League place, while Newcastlea s objective, usually, is to merely stay in the Premier League and achieve mid-table security. Both clubs, at the moment, are matching their respective targets, but are still underachieving as the teams almost definitely have more potential than they have showed thus far.

Team News & Tactics

Newcastle United

At the start of the season, Newcastle seemed as destined for relegation as Alan Pardew did for the sack. 27 games into the season, the Magpies find themselves in 11th place with 35 points and

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Can he make a difference?

are 13 points above Burnley a the team currently sitting in 18th place. While Pardew has resigned and is now the Crystal Palace coach, Newcastle are in a comfortable spot.

Comfort, though, isna t always the best thing to have for a football club. Mid-table mediocrity can seep into the minds of the players and the managers who tend to slip into a state of limbo. In the last six games, the St. Jamesa Park outfit have won just two out of the last six games and accumulated a total of 8 points. In those games, Newcastle have managed a total of seven goals and in United they are up against the second best defence in the league.

The home team will be missing Siem De Jong, Paul Dummett, Steven Taylor and Cheick Tiote through injury, while Jack Colback is suspended. A knee injury saw fullback Massadio Haidara pull up against Aston Villa at weekend, but seems to have recovered and is fit to compete.

John Carvera s side usually line-up in an old fashioned 4-4-2 as they did against Aston Villa, in that 1-0 win. While former Red Devils player Gabriel Obertan underperformed on the right side of midfield last time out, Mehdi Abeid was more than a handful. Yet, the danger man for United will be star striker Papiss Demba Cisse who netted the winner against Villa last time out.

Predicted Line-Up (4-4-2): Krul, Janmaat, Haidara, Coloccini, Williamson, Obertan, Sissoko, Ameobi, Abeid, Cisse, Riviere

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Manchester United

While Jose Mourinho branded the 20-time champions as a title contendersa earlier in the week, the reality is that they are nowhere near title contenders. At the moment, the Red Devils are locked in a five horse raced for two Champions League spots and are in fourth place one point behind Arsenal who are in third and two above Liverpool who are in fifth.

Listening to the fansa demands, manager Louis Van Gaal finally

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fielded a traditional 4-4-2 formation against Sunderland with captain Wayne Rooney playing up front with Radamel Falcao. While United were laboured in the first half again, but found their mojo in the second. Sustained pressure inside the Black Catsa half finally yielded a penalty for United, setting up that 2-0 win. Rooney converted that penalty, but it was Falcaoa s wonderful ball control and turn that earned the penalty. That little move was later acknowledged by Van Gaal in a post match interview a something that may give the Colombian some confidence.

Yet, the standout performer for the Red Devilsa in attack was winger Ashley Young who has been a rare shining star for Van Gaal this season. Adnan Januzaj, a second half substitute for record signing Angel Di Maria, also had a good game, assisting Rooney for his second goal of the game. Another positive for the Old Trafford club was the defence, which, apart from a couple of mistakes early on in the first half, was solid.

United will be without striker Robin Van Persie and the club have announced that Michael Carrick will not start the game against Newcastle.

Predicted Line-Up (4-4-1-1): De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Evans, Rojo, Januzaj, Herrera, Blind, Young, Rooney, Falcao

Key Statistics

Newcastle have failed to score in three of their last four home league meetings with Man Utd, though they did win the other 3-0.

Newcastle have won just two of their last 24 Premier League matches against Man Utd (W2 D5 L17).

Papiss Ciss has the best minutes per goal rate in the Premier League this season (min. 4 goals); one every 84 minutes.

Wayne Rooney has netted 12 Premier League goals against the Magpies; a joint-high against any opponent along with Aston Villa.

Key Player

Wayne Rooney

Two goals in the last game against Sunderland, ended a run of eight games without a goal in the Premier League for the Manchester United captain. The 29 year-old tends to go through these droughts at times, but whenever he comes back he generally starts a run of a few games where he finds the back of the net more often than not. Whata s more, Rooney has scored an incredible 12 Premier League goals against the Magpies, including two goals in the reverse fixture back in December.

Prediction

Newcastle United 1-3 Manchester United

While there was a fair bit of criticism for Louis Van Gaala s side despite that 2-0 win against Sunderland, the second half performance was definitely promising. The club may have lost that game against Swansea 10 days ago, but even in that game, they played better than some of the matches prior to that game. The Red Devils are definitely building up a head of steam, while Newcastle seem to be in limbo.

Blast from the past