Newcastle United will be looking to take a leaf out of Manchester United’s book as they travel to Old Trafford for Saturday afternoon’s encounter with the Red Devils, having lost their unbeaten record at the hands of Manchester City last weekend. United have shown how to bounce back after a defeat to City with a run of unspectacular, but solid 1-0 victories that has kept them within five points off the top.
Newcastle United are in the midst of a tough run of fixtures with Chelsea waiting in the wings next weekend after two tough trips to both the Mancunian clubs. Having started off the season in stunning fashion, Newcastle’s credentials are on the line as they look to maintain the momentum that has propelled them into the top four.
They boast an impressive defensive record having conceded just 11 goals this season, the joint meanest defense in the top flight. This has been mainly due to the unchanging backline consisting of Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Ryan Taylor and Danny Simpson. But they will have to be at their supreme best to keep out the hosts and even that might prove to not be enough on the day.
Manager Alan Pardew has warned his players of a Manchester United backlash, after the Red Devils were held to a 2-2 draw at home in midweek by Benfica thereby leaving their chances of qualifiying for the Champions League knockout stages hanging in the balance. Pardew said,
“I know he (Sir Alex Ferguson) will be smarting from Wednesday’s draw, so unfortunately, we are on the back of a negative from Manchester United’s point of view, so it will be a tough game for us.
When the last game of the season comes around, I expect Manchester United to be playing for the title. He wouldn’t have it any other way, the manager.”
Manchester United head into this game knowing that a win will propel them to within two points off leaders Manchester City, who travel to Anfield on Sunday. It is worth noting that Manchester United have not conceded a single goal in the league after the defeat to City, which is mainly down to their skipper Nemanja Vidic returning from injury and adding some much needed solidity and stability to their defence. And despite the uncertainity surrounding their backline, the Red Devils have kept the most clean sheets this season (6) than any other team in the league.
Wayne Rooney looks likely to win his fitness race in time to face the Magpies and will be a welcome boost for Sir Alex. Chris Smalling and Rafael have also resumed full training as United’s injury worries ease up ahead of a demanding run of games. But midfielder Anderson has been ruled out for at least 3 months with a knee injury. Newasctle, meanwhile, are ste to welcome back Yohan Cabaye to their starting line up after he passed a fitness test on Friday.
Players to Watch:
Manchester United: Nani.
The Portuguese winger has been off color in recent weeks but showed glimpses of returning back to his best against Benfica. He is is key to United’s success this season as he possesses the skill to unlock any defense in the league. He will be required to do so against the best defense in the top flight this season.
Newcastle United: Ryan Taylor.
He had a horrorshow against the other Manchester club, Manchester City last weekend as he was guilty for the opening two goals. He has had a very good start to this season however, and his set piece delivery remains a threat. He comes up against Nani tomorrow, a player who knows how to beat his man. Taylor will have to be at his best and he cannot let his guard drop for even a moment or Nani will make him pay.
Prediction: Newcastle’s defense will have a tough time of it tomorrow, with Manchester United odds on favourites to beat the Magpies by at least a couple of goals.