Newcastle

Newcastle will find it difficult to breakdown Manchester United's deep defence. Picture - Reuters.

Manchester United will host Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Sunday in an unlikely top-four encounter in the Premiership.

Not many expected Newcastle to stand at fourth in the table after playing 12 games but that is how things are, with the Tyneside club's unbeaten streak finally coming to an end after a 3-1 defeat at the hands of leaders Manchester City last week.

It is a tough period for Newcastle though as they face second-placed Manchester United today, before a clash with Chelsea next week. It could well be that they will fall below their current fourth spot.

Manchester United have launched on a run of five consecutive league victories, following their 6-1 humiliation against Man City, and manager Sir Alex Ferguson has adopted a considerably different style of play to the one they started the season with. They sit back, defend deep and are less enterprising, going forward while they began the season with a fluid front-line.

The champions come to this game on the back of a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Benfica, in the Champions League in midweek - a result which threatens their qualification to the knockout stages of Europe's elite competition.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew will take hope from Benfica's result at Old Trafford and will instruct his side to avoid any mistakes such as those which led to Man City's goals last week. The stats don't give Pardew a cause for optimism though - the Toons haven't won in their last six meetings with Man United, managing to score only three goals.

Newcastle will hope to alter that record which will go a long way to extend his team's stay at the higher echelons of the Premier League table.

Team News

Manchester United will welcome back Wayne Rooney who has recovered from a hip injury, after being rested against Benfica on Wednesday. However, Sir Alex will be without midfielder Anderson, till February, with a knee injury.

Newcastle expect both Chieck Tiote and Leon Best to make their returns, while winger Gabriel Obertan, who made the move to Newcastle from Man United during the summer, has recovered from an injury and could feature against his former club.

Prediction

Man United have been solid in defence and have the habit of winning without playing too well. Newcastle's forwards will have a hard time today and with United playing at home, expect a 1-0 win for Sir Alex's men.