Manchester United will be aiming to get back to winning ways as they lock horns with Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Saturday.
Following a long international break, Manchester United fans will be excited for the resumption of club football as it will give them the opportunity to get a glimpse of their new signings this summer.
From a sporting perspective, however, things are looking rather bleak for Manchester United as a 6-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, prior to the international break has once again put Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer under pressure. The Red Devils have, in fact, won only one of their three matches so far this campaign and are dawdling on the wrong end of the league table.
Therefore, a win this weekend could be crucial as Solskjaer look to recover from his side’s terrible start to the campaign. The Norwegian, however, should also be aware of the challenge Newcastle United will pose, as the Magpies have had a decent start to the campaign so far.
In the opening four matches of the 2020/21 Premier League season, Newcastle United have won two matches while drawing one. They are coming on the back of a comfortable 3-1 victory over Burnley and a win this weekend could help them gain some valuable points in these early parts of the campaign.
Here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this fascinating encounter in the Premier League this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
Steve Bruce has been boosted by the return of Jamaal Lascelles and Jamal Lewis heading into this fixture. It means Fabian Schar might have to return to the bench, with Lascelles likely to form the central defensive partnership alongside Federico Fernandez.
Lewis, meanwhile, had to return early from his international duty. But, he is contention to start this game and should retain his role at left-back, with Javier Manquillo operating on the opposite flank. The Magpies are likely to play with a compact defensive shape in order to squeeze Man United this weekend.
Martin Dubravka, however, is not recovering at full speed, so we can expect Karl Darlow to continue in goal for an extended period of time. The Newcastle custodian has done an excellent job so far this campaign.
Bruce has no reason to make any changes from the double-pivot system, consisting of Isaac Hayden and Jonjo Shelvey, although the changed 4-2-3-1 setup should see Allan Saint-Maximin featuring in the attacking midfield role.
Moving forward, Matt Ritchie is a long-term absentee for Newcastle while Miguel Almiron was at the receiving end of a nasty tackle from Carlos Zambrano while on international duty. The Paraguayan international is fit but there’s a chance that Joelinton may get the nod at left-wing, with new signing Jeff Hendrick operating on the opposite flank.
And finally, the Newcastle attack will be spearheaded by Callum Wilson, who has become a darling for not only the fans but also the FPL players all across the globe. The ex-Bournemouth striker has been in fiery form and will be looking to extend his scoring tally this weekend.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Darlow; Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Lewis; Hayden, Shelvey; Hendrick, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton; Wilson.
Harry Maguire is currently a doubt for Manchester United heading into this fixture after picking up a knock during the international break. His fitness will be assessed ahead of the game but it seems Solskjaer will be more than happy to field Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly, giving his captain some much-needed respite.
The Red Devils are not missing any other players in the defensive department, meaning Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka could occupy the fullback role. New signing Alex Telles could be an option on the bench, but might not feature as he came back on Thursday, through a long-trip from South America.
Solskjaer, unfortunately, is missing out on Anthony Martial through suspension while new signing Edinson Cavani is in quarantine. It also seems unlikely that Odion Ighalo will be trusted with his first start for Manchester United in the Premier League.
Hence, it won’t be surprising to see Solskjaer opting for a change in setup, with Marcus Rashford spearheading the attack alongside Mason Greenwood as both of them can operate in a central role.
It should give Manchester United the freedom to deploy Donny van de Beek in central midfield, alongside Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic while Bruno Fernandes is set to assume his role in the number ten role, as usual.
Probable Lineup (4-1-2-1-2): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw; Matic; Pogba, van de Beek; Fernandes; Greenwood, Rashford.
- The Magpies can claim back-to-back home league wins for the first time since beating Southampton and Crystal Palace in December 2019.
- The Red Devils have won five successive Premier League away matches, scoring at least twice in each victory. They have never earned six top-flight away victories in a row while scoring more than once in each fixture.
- Newcastle have won two of their past three Premier League home games against Manchester United, compared to just one victory in their previous 13 attempts (D3, L9).
- Karl Darlow has made 20 Premier League saves this season, more than any other player prior to the latest round of fixtures.
- United have conceded from a penalty in each of their first three league matches – the only side to do so in each of their opening four Premier League games were Wimbledon in 1999.
Player to Watch
With United missing out on players like Cavani and Martial, the onus will most definitely be on Marcus Rashford to provide the goods in the final third.
The Englishman has had his fair share of problems surrounding lack of form and consistency. However, in a more central role, Rashford could find a bit more freedom in terms of positioning while the presence of players like Greenwood and Fernandes could allow him to drift into a wide role if necessary.
One thing is for certain – Rashford needs to fire on all cylinders if Manchester United are to have any hopes of recovering from their poor start to the campaign and compete for a top-four finish in the league.
Newcastle United 1-1 Manchester United
Manchester United are evidently lacking confidence and are heading into this game lacking significant firepower, despite all the new signings on deadline day. They do need time to gel together as a team and hence, it won’t be surprising to see the Red Devils being held to a draw by a usually solid Newcastle side this weekend.