Fresh from their 1-1 draw at Swansea on Sunday, Manchester United look to return to winning ways with the visit of Newcastle. Sir Alex Ferguson was ultimately left frustrated by his side’s first match of the busy festive period as their second-half dominance ultimately went unrewarded.
With their lead at the top of the Premier League now cut to four points over rivals Manchester City, United will expect to take maximum points against a struggling Newcastle.
“I felt that we deserved to win at Swansea and that is why I am really confident for the rest of the games we having coming up over Christmas,” United’s Patrice Evra told MUTV. “We have to move on from the draw [on Sunday] and focus on our next game against Newcastle. It is important to win and it is important that we keep playing well.
“I think we need to talk about ourselves and not about another team [Newcastle]. We face Newcastle at home, let’s make sure we get three points. After that it is West Brom and we must make sure we get three points then too.
“This is an important part of the season and it is an opportunity to get a lot of points. I’m not worried, I am really confident for the games coming up at Old Trafford.”
Boss Sir Alex Ferguson previously admitted that he would be rotating his side over a period of four games in 10 days and there could be several changes as he tries to keep his players fresh. That could mean that Nemanja Vidic is rested after he made his first start following three months on the sidelines against Swansea. Having been left out of that clash, Rio Ferdinand may well return.
Rafael will face a late fitness test as he seeks a return from a hamstring injury. After performing poorly and being taken off against Swansea, Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney could find themselves left out.
Having a disappointing season after last term’s fifth-place finish, Newcastle avoided a third straight defeat with a much-needed win over Queens Park Rangers on Saturday. The 1-0 victory again highlighted one of the side’s key problems as Papiss Cisse struggled once more and initially refused to shake manager Alan Pardew’s hand after being substituted. With Cisse’s replacement, Shola Ameobi, going on to score the winner, the striker may find himself starting on the bench at Old Trafford.
Newcastle will continue to be without four influential players with Cheick Tiote suspended and Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and Steven Taylor still out injured.
Manchester United (probable)
G: De Gea
D: Smalling, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra
M: Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes
F: Rooney, Van Persie, Young
Newcastle United (probable)
D: Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon
M: Marveaux, Perch, Anita, Gutierrez
F: Ameobi, Ba
Prediction: Newcastle have been especially poor away from home this season and have yet to win a game. It is a record that is hard to see them correcting at Old Trafford. With Ferguson set to freshen up his lineuphis lineup and it is hard to see United being as wasteful going forward as they were last time out. With Newcastle missing a number of key players, United should get a comfortable win.
Manchester United 3-1 Newcastle United
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick-off from Old Trafford at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, with a live stream available on ESPN3.