After the painful loss to rival Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals, Manchester United look to pick up the pieces and extend their lead on Arsenal with a road match against Newcastle United at St. James' Park on Tuesday.
Back in action for the Red Devils will be a rested Wayne Rooney. The star forward has only played one match, a second-leg Champions League match on April 12th against Chelsea, since the first leg against Chelsea on April 6th, due to suspension.
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew is aware that Rooney should be in top form after missing out on the FA Cup match on Saturday.
You've got to layer Rooney, said Pardew. You can't position someone to take care of him because his movement is everywhere.So, as a team you need to layer him. When he gets possession you need to be alive because Rooney's a creator as well as a goalscorer but we've got one or two ideas about how to stop Wayne.
Sir Alex Ferguson will no doubt have Rooney go the full 90 minutes. But the legendary manager also has the benefit of some players who are back from injury and in good form to come off the bench.
Rio Ferdinand and Ji-Sung Park don't look like they've lost a step since being sidelined. Both might come on as substitutes, however, as Chris Smalling filled in admirably for Ferdinand, and is well rested for this match. Meanwhile, Ryan Giggs has a good chance of making the starting 11 after sitting out against City.
Indeed, Ferguson arguably has the deepest roster in the Premier League, and giving certain players rest is expected to pay dividends as the season comes to a close.
A player who may not see action, unless the outcome is decided early on, will be Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian striker, and leading Premier League goal-scorer, had a frustrating match against City, in which he botched two simple chances to put the Red Devils ahead.
As loaded as Manchester Unitled look at the moment, a similar result to the 3-0 victory over Newcastle at Old Trafford back in August might not be in the cards for the Red Devils, even with Andy Carroll playing for Liverpool. The Magpies are currently tenth in the standings, and have only two losses in their last eight matches.
One of the matches that exemplified Newcastle's resiliency this season was the four straight goals against second-place Arsenal to earn a draw back on February 5th.
The Magpies are not short on talent either with midfielders Cheik Tiote and Jonas Gutierrez, as well as forward Shola Ameobi, who is coming off a one-goal, one-assist performance against Wolverhampton.
Perhaps the most talented player on the roster is 25-year-old Jose Enrique. There have been rumors that the Spanish defender might be moving to Liverpool to join Carroll, though Pardew recently confirmed that Newcastle has every intention on holding onto their world-class defender.
The 4-1 victory against Wolves was the last match Newcastle played at St. James' Park, and the club has been successful at home this season. The Magpies defeated Liverpool at home in December in perhaps their best victory of the season.
I know there's no way Sir Alex will under-estimate the game, said Pardew.
POSSIBLE STARTING LINEUPS
D: Simpson, S Taylor, Williamson, Enrique;
M: Barton, Coloccini, Tioté, Gutiérrez;
F: Lovenkrands, Ameobi
G:Van der Sar;
D: O'Shea, Smalling, Vidic, Evra;
M: Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Nani;
F: Rooney, Hernández