Manchester United will look to improve their woeful away form when they travel to face a struggling Newcastle United side at St. James’ Park on Sunday.
Steve Bruce started off well at Newcastle United this season. But, after the early light, it has gotten pretty dark and gloomy at Tyneside, with the Magpies currently 19th on the Premier League table and four games without a win. Their only win of the campaign came in a shock triumph against Tottenham Hotspur, who have been showing signs of struggle themselves recently.
It was always going to be a tedious task for Bruce to win over Newcastle fans. But, the current form is making it tougher by the day. His counterpart Ole Gunnar Solskjaer isn’t exactly winning hearts either. Manchester United have been horrid of late. But, it is their away form that is a matter of grave concern.
Failing to find goals is one thing but failing to win away from home is an even bigger sin. The latest blow was a 0-0 draw at AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League. Despite the injuries plaguing his roster, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be desperate to stop the winless buck against Newcastle on Sunday.
Team News & Tactics
Isaac Hayden will serve the first of his three-match ban for his straight red against Leicester City. But, there are positives for Steve Bruce going into the match. Allan Saint-Maximin is fit enough to start; so is Jonjo Shelvey, which will be a huge creative boost for Newcastle against Manchester United.
Florian Lejuene and Matt Ritchie remain sidelined while Jetro Willems will only be good enough to make the bench, if at all. Bruce should start with the 5-4-1 he used against Tottenham in a bid to perhaps get a similar result by frustrating the opposition.
Martin Dubravka is likely to have a busy day on Sunday and will need to be at his best to deny Manchester United the goal they will look for. The three-man central defence should comprise of captain Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar and Paul Dummett. DeAndre Yedlin and Javier Manquillo will be tasked with guarding the flanks.
Shelvey should replace Hayden in the lineup and is likely to be accompanied by Manchester United target Sean Longstaff. Saint-Maximin should start from the off, with Bruce likely to look at exploiting his pace to trouble Manchester United. Miguel Almiron and Joelinton are expected to complete the starting eleven.
When attacking, Newcastle are likely to adapt the shape of a 3-4-2-1, with Yedlin and Manquillo pushing forward into the midfield and Saint-Maximin and Almiron supporting Joelinton in attack.
Probable Lineup (5-4-1): Dubravka; Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Manquillo; Almiron, Longstaff, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin; Joelinton
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a lot to ponder upon as he prepares his Manchester United side to take on Newcastle. David de Gea should start in goal, despite the Spaniard being preferred over Sergio Romero during the midweek. Harry Maguire is a certain starter, but his defensive partners are far from it.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw remain sidelined, as do the likes of Phil Jones, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Eric Bailly. Ashley Young is certain to start for Manchester United. But, we could see Axel Tuanzebe retain his spot on the left after impressing against Arsenal. Victor Lindelof should partner Maguire in central defence.
In midfield, Paul Pogba’s participation is in doubt once again and Jesse Lingard has suffered what appeared to be a hamstring injury against AZ Alkmaar. The two join Anthony Martial as players who will not feature against Newcastle on Sunday.
This should mean another start for the underperforming Nemanja Matic alongside Scott McTominay, who has been the sole saving grace in recent times for Manchester United. Although, Fred could make a case for himself to start instead of Matic, in case Solskjaer wants a more attacking midfield.
In attack, we should see Marcus Rashford lead the line, with Daniel James providing the width. Mason Greenwood started during the midweek but could be thrust into the lineup once again to pump up the attack. Juan Mata should start in the hole for Manchester United.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Young, Maguire, Lindelof, Tuanzebe; McTominay, Matic; Greenwood, Mata, James; Rashford
1. Manchester United to win @ 1.85
2. Marcus Rashford to score anytime @ 2.40
3. Manchester United Clean Sheet – YES @ 2.25
1. Marcus Rashford to score 2 or more @ 8.50
1. Manchester United are without a win in their last 10 away games in all competitions.
2. Newcastle United have scored just 4 goals in their 7 Premier League matches so far this season.
3. Manchester United have failed to score more than once in each of their last 7 away league matches.
4. Steve Bruce is set to be in-charge of his 400th Premier League game on Sunday.
5. Steve Bruce has failed to win a game against Manchester United for 21 matches now (D5 L16).
Player to Watch
The boy wonder, people exclaimed as Rashford broke into the first-team setup under Louis van Gaal. His hunger and willingness to work for his team encapsulated the onlookers. Fast forward a few years and Rashford seems to have lost a portion of his hunger and his character, so to speak.
It is time for the English international to reinvent himself. For, when the chips are down, great players reinvent their form, reclaim their hunger and reinstate their stature. Rashford was the most lively attacker against AZ Alkmaar, despite coming on for just half-an-hour. The manager has backed him by selling Romelu Lukaku. It is time for him to repay his faith.
Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester United
Manchester United should have enough about them to stave off Newcastle United. While Solskjaer praised his ‘boys’ after the 0-0 draw against AZ Alkmaar, the failure to have a shot on target during the entire match is unlikely to be taken lightly by the Manchester United manager.
Expect Manchester United players to display more hunger to win compared to what they have shown lately. Overall, Manchester United should have enough quality about them to defend against the incoming threat from Newcastle and score on the other end. We are going for a routine 2-0 win for United, however, it is anything but a routine right now at the club.