Manchester United will be aiming to extend their winning run under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, when they take on Newcastle United on Wednesday.
Manchester United will travel to the St. James’ Park this week, as they gear up to take on Newcastle United in their first match of the New Year on Wednesday night.
Manchester United have been in a solid run of form, having picked up three big victories since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed as the interim manager last month. The Red Devils have beaten Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Bournemouth over the festive period and have managed to close down the gap to the top four to eight points and will be looking to further cut down the deficit this week.
Newcastle, on the other hand, find themselves mired in the battle for survival towards the bottom of the table. The Magpies are currently stationed in the fifteenth spot, three points above the relegation zone, following their 1-1 draw against Watford this past weekend.
The last time the Magpies clashed against the Red Devils, they were beaten 3-2 after having taken a two-goal lead in the first period. Having picked up just one win in their last seven outings, Rafael Benitez’s side will have a huge test at their hands to stop an in-form Manchester United side.
Team News & Tactics
Defenders Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez are both major doubts for the Magpies with injury, while Florian Lejeuene is also unlikely to be involved. Ki Sung-yeung is away on international duty with South Korea for the Asian Cup, but Jonjo Shelvey is fit again and could be set for a start.
Benitez is expected to set his team out in a 5-4-1 formation against Manchester United, with Martin Dubravka starting in goal. DeAndre Yedlin will start as the right-back, with Matt Ritchie expected to continue in the left-back role. Fabian Schar is expected to replace the injured Fernandez, alongside Jamaal Lascelles and Paul Dummett at the heart of the defence.
On-loan Chelsea winger Kenedy was dropped for the weekend fixture and is likely to be left out again, in favour of Jacob Murphy on the left flank. On the opposite side, Ayoze Perez is expected to hold on to his spot in the starting XI. Mohamed Diame will pair up with Shelvey in the middle of the park, with Isaac Hayden expected to drop out.
On-loan striker Salomon Rondon has been the in-form man for the Magpies and will need to be firing on all cylinders if they are to stand a chance on Wednesday.
Probable Lineup (5-4-1): Dubravka; Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie; Perez, Shelvey, Diame, Murphy; Rondon;
Manchester United have been dealt with a blow, as Marcus Rashford came off injured against Bournemouth and might not be risked on Wednesday. Eric Bailly is suspended for three games, after his direct red card at the weekend, while fellow defenders Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Antonio Valencia remain sidelined. Alexis Sanchez is back in contention for the Red Devils.
Solskjaer is likely to make a few changes to the side that beat the Cherries at the weekend. David De Gea is a certain starter in goal for the Mancunian outfit. Diogo Dalot is set to start at right-back in place of Ashley Young, while Luke Shaw is expected to hold on to his place on the opposite flank. Phil Jones and Victor Lindelof will pair up at the centre of the backline.
Paul Pogba has been in exceptional form for the Red Devils and should continue to feature from the kick off. No changes are expected in the other two midfield slots either, with Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera likely to start again as well.
Juan Mata could be in line for a start from the right flank, replacing Jesse Lingard, while Anthony Martial should hold on to his spot on the left side of the attack. Spearheading the attack for Manchester United on Wednesday will be Romelu Lukaku, who scored against the Cherries after coming on from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Mata, Lukaku, Martial;
- Manchester Untied to win @ 1.60
- Manchester United Clean Sheet – YES @ 2.50
- Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.72
- Penalty in the Match – YES @ 4.00
- Newcastle United’s only win in the eight most recent meetings came at St James’ Park last season courtesy of a Matt Ritchie goal.
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is vying to become only the second manager in United’s history to win his first four league games in charge, emulating Matt Busby in 1946.
- Manchester United have conceded 14 league goals from set-pieces this season, including in each of the last three games. Newcastle have the division’s next worst record, letting in 12 goals from dead-ball situations.
- Rafael Benitez has won each of his past four home games against Manchester United in all competitions: two with Liverpool, and one each with Chelsea and Newcastle.
- The Red Devils have kept just two Premier League clean sheets this season, a joint-low with Fulham.
Player to Watch
Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
The Frenchman has been at the forefront of Manchester United’s resurgence under Solskjaer, putting in scintillating displays in each of the Norwegian’s three games in-charge. Following his exploits at the weekend against Bournemouth, Pogba has now been directly involved in seven goals in three matches under Solskjaer, scoring four and setting up three.
In comparison, the World Cup winner scored three goals and provided three assists in 14 league appearances under Jose Mourinho earlier this season. The 25-year-old has been enjoying the attacking freedom afforded by the manager since taking over and is relishing playing under the Norwegian. Expect him to be United’s chief driving force again in Tyneside.
Newcastle United 1-3 Manchester United
Newcastle beat Manchester United 1-0 at St. James’ Park in the Premier League last season and came close to getting a victory against the Red Devils at Old Trafford earlier this term. However, they have picked up just one win in their last seven matches and have picked up only seven points at home this season – second worst record in the division.
Manchester United, on the other hand, are flying high since Solskjaer took over the reins at the club. In the Norwegian’s three matches in-charge, the Red Devils have scored twelve times and let in just three and head into the game as clear favourites.
Benitez will set his team up to defend deep and keep the visitors out, but given the renewed vigour and intent with which the Red Devils are playing, we at The Hard Tackle expect them to make it four wins in a row on Wednesday night.