Preview: United v Newcastle United

One down, three to play in this year’s festive programme – and if Sir Alex Ferguson’s side is holding on to any lingering disappointment following Sunday’s draw at Swansea City then there is little time to wallow. Not with Alan Pardew’s Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, the Geordies in dangerously poor form, and United seeking to bounce back from a first draw in 21 Premier League matches. Not that Sir Alex Ferguson’s men will count any points secure just yet; not after last season’s 3-2 reserve to Blackburn Rovers at the same stage of the campaign.

Ferguson’s men will be smarting after dropping points in Wales despite a thoroughly dominant performance. Swansea’s equaliser came after Patrice Evra lost his man and Nemanja Vidić was slow to react, allowing Michu to score his 13th of a remarkable season – United’s 70-year-old manager will have gained little reassurance that the Reds’ defensive performances have improved.

Still, it will take a major turnaround in fortunes if Newcastle is to pull off a result at Old Trafford. After all, the Magpies have not beaten United in Manchester since February 1972. Moreover, Newcastle’s six defeats in the past 10 matches points to a team in dire form – and a manager under genuine pressure. Eight year contract or otherwise, manager Alan Pardew’s time at St James’ will surely be up should Newcastle suffer a poor festive period.

It is a shocking about-face for Pardew after Newcastle’s fifth place finish last time out – something Ferguson puts down to the Geordies’ ability to catch opponents off guard.

“The new players they brought in caught us all by surprise,” admits Ferguson.

“We didn’t really know a lot about them. I knew about Ba, of course, but I didn’t know anything about Cabaye or Cissé, to be honest with you. They had fantastic seasons. Second time round, clubs are starting to analyse them a bit different, plus, more importantly, he’s had some injuries.”

Meanwhile, title rivals Manchester City faces Sunderland on Wearside, with Roberto Mancini’s men seeking to improve on a mixed record on the road this season. The Blues clawed back two points on United in the Premier League table after beating Reading with a highly dubious goal at the weekend. But it is just that kind of fortune that swings titles either way.

Little wonder there is a tighter focus from United’s squad ahead of Newcastle’s visit. After all, further dropped points could see City close the gap to as little as a single point after Boxing Day.

“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,” defender Patrice Evra told MUTV.

“We have to move on from the draw 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. 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.”

Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League, Old Trafford - 26 December 2012Ferguson is likely to rotate for the Geordies’ visit, with games against West Bromwich Albion and Wigan Athletic to come in the next week. Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernández, Darren Fletcher and Chris Smalling could all feature, with Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes also available.

Rafael da Silva must overcome a hamstring injury if he is to replace Phil Jones at right-back.Captain Nemanja Vidić may sit out the tie after completing 90 minutes against Swansea on Sunday.

The Scot must also decide whether to keep faith with Wayne Rooney and Antonio Valencia. The latter is in an extended period of poor form, while Rooney suffered his worst game of the season at Swansea. While Rooney may sit out Newcastle’s visit, there are fewer alternatives to Valencia, with Nani still injured and United short of wingers in the squad.

Meanwhile, Newcastle manager Pardew will be without a slew of key players for the trip to the north west. Chieck Tiote is suspended after picking up a fifth booking of the season at the weekend, while Steven Taylor, Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye and Ryan Taylor are also absent through injury.

It is just the kind of ill fortune that has struck Pardew’s men this season, with Newcastle now just five points off the relegation zone following an exciting 2011/12 campaign. The fifth place finish that took Newcastle into Europe and proffered an eight-year contract for Pardew is now a distant memory.

“They’ve found it a bit tougher this year but I know they’ve had some injuries, which have played a part,” said United striker Welbeck, who spent a season at rivals Sunderland two years ago.

“You can still see potential throughout their team. They have some real attacking threats – everyone knows about players like Demba Ba and Papiss Cissé. All I can do is watch their games, look for any weaknesses and then do some damage on the pitch if I get the chance.”

Indeed, Welbeck is likely to start, with the youngster having featured from the bench more often than not this season. Longsight-born Welbeck has become the principal victim of £24 million Robin van Persie’s outstanding start to life with United.

Could the striker could fill his boots with a weak Newcastle side in town? Certainly, many will feel that an early goal could open the proverbial floodgates at Old Trafford. Then again, supporters said the same of United’s last Boxing Day fixture – the 2-3 reverse to Blackburn Rovers in Manchester.

Still, Newcastle has emerged victorious only once in the ;last 22 matches against United in all competitions – the 3-0 Premier League home victory in January. And the north east side has not beaten the Reds in 28 visits to Old Trafford.

Indeed, no club has secured more points against Newcastle than United in the Premier League era – 75. Few will bet against that total being 78 by Wednesday evening, with Pardew seemingly a lone voice of dissent.

“I’m actually going into it probably more buoyed than any other point of the season,” claimed the 51-year-old.

“We’ve definitely picked up, we look a little bit more resiliant, we picked up a very important clean sheet on Saturday and I think we’ll be in good heart for what is one of the toughest games of the programme: Manchester United away.”

Match Details
Manchester United v Newcastle United – Premier League, Old Trafford – Wednesday 26 December 2012, 3pm

Possible teams
United (4-4-2): De Gea; Jones, Evans, Smalling, Evra; Young, Carrick, Fletcher, Welbeck; Hernandez, van Persie. Subs from: Lindegaard, Wootton, Vidić, Ferdinand, Buttner, Scholes, Cleverley, Valencia, Powell, Giggs, Rooney

Newcastle (4-5-1): Krul; Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Cissé, Anita, Perch, Marveaux, Gutierrez; Ba. Subs from: Harper, Ferguson, Bigirimana, Obertan, Sh Ameobi, Sa Ameobi, Elliot

Officials
Referee: P Dowd
Assistants: G Beswick, S Ledger
Fourth Official: A Taylor

Form
United: WWLWWD
Newcastle: LWLLLW

Head to Head
Last 10: United 6, Newcastle 1, Draw 3
Overall: United 79, Newcastle 40, Draw 37

Prediction
3-0

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Comments

  1. says

    A good opportunity to give some players game time (particularly looking forward to seeing Welbeck in the starting XI; even though playing Danny on the wing is not, in my humble opinion, the most efficient way to utilize him).

    Hopefully, Antonio will be given a much-needed rest and Wayne will be among the subs – when he’s shit, he’s shit, but we all know that when he’s shit, he needs games to be good again – so, maybe, on for Hernandez, but on the left and some quality 15 minutes up top for Welbeck? Double win (or not).

    Here’s to three points tomorrow.

  2. says

    I could see Chicharito starting up front to give him some game time, either to showcase him for the January window, or to try to appease him prior to the window. Rooney coming on as a sub is a good prediction.
    With the way United has been leaking goals this season (even allowing Sunderland and Reading to get goals) I have a hard time seeing them keep a clean sheet, though anything is possible.
    Score prediction: 3-1

  3. han says

    Commenter said:
    Is there really no TV coverage of this match in the UK? Is anybody willing to share their streaming website?

    ranters on here make scrooge look generous
    cept for unc
    he has a heart of gold

  4. banforth says

    complete guess work, but he could adopt the fabled diamond formation which has been employed successfully on the 2 occasions we have played / beat Newcastle this season. Cleverley thrived on both occasions so I would expect him to start. Carrick, in my view, has emerged as the player most pivotal to united’s prospects for success this season, so he may earn himself a rest in either this game or WBA (not Wigan away).

  5. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    newcastle play horrible hoofing shite and have a midfield full of plodders, so theyll probably boss carrick and score off a set piece

  6. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    but nonetheless usual lazy faffing 3-1 with a shite last half hour when taggart starts making strange subs

  7. Minus The Bear says

    As above. Should batter them with the injuries and suspensions they have but won’t. Rooney says he wants to make amends for doing more harm than good against Swansea, hard to justify when he had such an awful game but Fergie will probably relent.

  8. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    newcastle play horrible hoofing shite and have a midfield full of plodders, so theyll probably boss carrick and score off a set piece

    Ben Arfa is quality… I’d swap him for any of our wingers… except Nani.

  9. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Minus The Bear said:
    As above. Should batter them with the injuries and suspensions they have but won’t. Rooney says he wants to make amends for doing more harm than good against Swansea, hard to justify when he had such an awful game but Fergie will probably relent.

    Rooney, with a chip on his shoulder, and a point to prove… is one of the most dangerous players in England.

  10. sheesh says

    We should have murdered them at home last season. I think we will do so today, especially as we were so wasteful v Swansea.

    4-0

  11. Sidsidney says

    But can you justify playing Rooney after that performance against Swansea. Can you reward that. What will the other players make of his inclusion.

  12. Minus The Bear says

    Lindegaard, Vidic, Cleverley, Fletcher, Buttner, Wooton, Tunnicliffe are the subs. Currious lack of attacking players.

  13. Denton Davey says

    Sidney @ 2:47: “can you justify playing Rooney after that performance against Swansea. Can you reward that. What will the other players make of his inclusion.”

    Easy – TheWayneBoy is the most important player on this team so he has to be given as much game-time as possible.

    Without Rooney, the result is often awful. With him there’s no guarantee but he can’t be worse than he was last weekend – is that possible for him ?

    Giggs/Scholes = problems but maybe not disaster. Obviously, SAF must consider this to be UTD’s easiest fixture of the four.

  14. Sidsidney says

    Commenter said:
    Sidney @ 2:47: “can you justify playing Rooney after that performance against Swansea. Can you reward that. What will the other players make of his inclusion.”

    Easy – TheWayneBoy is the most important player on this team so he has to be given as much game-time as possible.

    Without Rooney, the result is often awful. With him there’s no guarantee but he can’t be worse than he was last weekend – is that possible for him ?

    Giggs/Scholes = problems but maybe not disaster. Obviously, SAF must consider this to be UTD’s easiest fixture of the four.

    Nah, you can’t give any player an automatic start in the 11 because their standards will drop no matter how great or nice or hardworking they are. It makes the player too important, too powerful, plays to their ego and shits on the next generation like Welbeck who are trying to break through.

    Fergie’s right to drop him. We don’t need him and Van Persie at home against this Newcastle 11 ffs.

  15. han says

    the pea starting means he won’t get a goal either
    that is an absolute lightweight 11 he has put out
    newcastle pissing themselves laughing in the dressing room thats for sure

  16. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    Minus The Bear said:
    De Gea, Smalling, Evra, Evans, Ferdinand, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Scholes, Hernandez, RvP

    We could have battered an injury-riddled Newcastle at OT, but have instead chosen to risk dropping more points. Well done, sir!

  17. Violent Banana says

    Will we ever see Nani in a United shirt again? TBH watching him turnover possession would only make this more frustrating

  18. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    Commenter said:
    Will we ever see Nani in a United shirt again? TBH watching him turnover possession would only make this more frustrating

    Yea, unlike that Valencia chap!

  19. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    Fucking Dean has given it!!

    This is the shittiest United team I have seen in a while, where the fuck was Evra then for that 2nd goal?

  20. Sidsidney says

    We’re getting battered at home to a second string set of cunts

    And there is no one who can change it from the bench

  21. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    He should just admit, Valencia, Evra, Evans, Giggs, Scholes,Rio and Young ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

    The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits…..

  22. Minus The Bear says

    That is utterly cretinous refereeing. The BBC explained it away as Cisse did not touch the ball, but the fucker is clearly interferring with play. If he’s level with Evans then fair enough, but he’s a yard in front. What the fuck is going on.

  23. Minus The Bear says

    We’d be wise to take heed of Newcastle’s attitide. I.e. shoot on sight, instead of getting into position and then trying a cross field pass to Valencia which is always going to skip away on the ground.

  24. Sidsidney says

    This is as bad as it gets from everyone, even Fergie

    There’s no cunt on the bench to change the way we’re playing

  25. AnantaxAnantax says

    Ridicilous defending and goalkeeping…..again

    Tbf i thought we’re okay-ish in possession & going forward, not great but not horrible.

    But conceding 2 soft goals just leaves too much for your offense to do…

  26. AnantaxAnantax says

    brianofnazareth said:
    I wonder if Valencia is still getting wages?

    Evra and DDG culpable for goals both today and at Swansea…plenty of blame to go around..

  27. says

    sidney said:
    Rio and Evans, fucking hell

    Yeah. Nothing to say about the fact that Danny Simpson is having a ball cos Giggs utterly useless and comes inside ALL the time exposing Evra. Nothing to say about the fact that Scholes stands stock still and making passes like he is on a training ground thereby making it easy to for Newcastle to crowd him. Evans and Rio have NO out ball at all. Yeah. Carry on and blame Rio and Evans.

  28. Phil says

    Well at least Scholes and Giggs aren’t the problem so far. We look all over the place. Has Carrick passed to anyone in a red shirt yet? Ferdinannd shits himself every time Ba comes at him. Valencia looks woefully short of confidence. Hernandez just ain’t got it. And johnny Evans is…well….Johnny Evans.

  29. Minus The Bear says

    Shamelessly stolen off twitter but whilst blaming individuals for the goals we should perhaps consider this, a woeful reflection of how we are failing to control games…

    “In their last three and a half Premier League games, Man Utd have allowed the opposition 29 shots on target.”

  30. Redzebs says

    Evra AGAiN getting caught, does he think because he scores a header a year he doesn’t have to defend, and why the fuck was he ever made captain? He’s shite at organising and motivating, I thought at least Giggs is wide and not in the middle with Scholes but who out of Scholes and Carrick is the driving force? when Carrick tries to go forward Scholes ends up getting caught out or getting booked, is that 3 yellows already all round, why didn’t we play it safe, play RVP upfront and play 3 in the middle? Hernandez is then your go to if you need a sub, they are by passing our midfield and its a gift for the forwards, hoofball is going to win this game for them, we’d be better doing it ourselves and get Scholes to punt them up to the front two, the United way can go fuck today as we need 3 points

  31. Redzebs says

    Evra AGAiN getting caught, does he think because he scores a header a year he doesn’t have to defend, and why the fuck was he ever made captain? He’s shite at organising and motivating, I thought at least Giggs is wide and not in the middle with Scholes but who out of Scholes and Carrick is the driving force? when Carrick tries to go forward Scholes ends up getting caught out or getting booked, is that 3 yellows already all round, why didn’t we play it safe, play RVP upfront and play 3 in the middle?

  32. Violent Banana says

    There’s a time and a place to remonstrate with officials; and frankly Fergie’s completely out of line there.

  33. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    sidney said:
    Nah, you can’t give any player an automatic start in the 11 because their standards will drop no matter how great or nice or hardworking they are. It makes the player too important, too powerful, plays to their ego and shits on the next generation like Welbeck who are trying to break through.

    Fergie’s right to drop him. We don’t need him and Van Persie at home against this Newcastle 11 ffs.

    what about valencia though

  34. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    thats 7 points sunderland have taken off city in their last three games, yet still taggart holds a grudge against em

  35. AnantaxAnantax says

    Wow what a game! Wondrful day in the end with City losing….

    Our defense is shambolic, but as I posted earlier I thought we were okay going forward.

    Beautiful cross by Valencia, then beauty of a pass from Carrick….

  36. AnantaxAnantax says

    Evra is GREAT going forward bit really really suspect in his defensive positioning…

    I absolutely adore Scholes, but today he was MIA. Giggs had flashes of goodness. Valencia was horrible for 70 minutes then put in some wonderful crosses. Carrick reliable as ever, with a brilliant pass for the winner

    Its a wonder I am saying this but we are missing Rafa at right back…better at bo def and offense vs Smalling…

  37. han says

    48 goals scored in 19 games is fantastic
    shame 28 conceded takes the shine off the 1st stat somewhat
    SAF has given up on the defence this season thats for sure

  38. says

    Portugal.

    Am so annoyed today. But at least we won. How our manager can still find a reason to play Scholes in any match I will not know. That second Newcastle goal was NEVER a goal. Dean has had a shocker today.

    If we blow this from here it really will be sad.

  39. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    han said:
    fuck that for a game
    this is not good for the nerves
    sweet pea came good but that was just so gut wrenching

    thank god for our forwards, how the hell did we win that, if we don’t sort this defending out,we are wide open, this will happen all season, need new midfielders, how are we 7 points clear, everyone else must be shit,

  40. han says

    Calvino said:
    Portugal.
    Am so annoyed today. But at least we won. How our manager can still find a reason to play Scholes in any match I will not know. That second Newcastle goal was NEVER a goal. Dean has had a shocker today.
    If we blow this from here it really will be sad.

    we’ve had bigger leads eaten into in recent memory and im not talking about last April
    scholes and giggs starting together will never go down well but SAF and that willy tickler phelan needed to accept that and play cleverley and fletcher instead today
    we got out of jail again today but im getting tired of watching our defenders running around like headless turkeys most of this season and looking at each other open mouthed when we concede
    what the fuck has happened to the coaching at OT?

  41. Sidsidney says

    Seeing Fergie celebrate at full time – and he ran down the tunnel – he knows those images will get back to Mancini

    Why would you retire when you can be involved in stuff like this and get one over on your enemies

  42. han says

    sidney said:
    Seeing Fergie celebrate at full time – and he ran down the tunnel – he knows those images will get back to Mancini

    Why would you retire when you can be involved in stuff like this and get one over on your enemies

    he’ll blow something the way he goes on
    its not normal to see that

  43. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    MotD…
    And Shearer makes a fuckin cock of himself… “time and time again”…

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  44. Denton Davey says

    Anantax @ 5:59: “Our defense is shambolic, but as I posted earlier I thought we were okay going forward.”

    Shambolic is pretty accurate BUT there are extenuating circumstances

    first, when Rio plays he requires a minder because he’s just not very mobile anymore; and,

    second, when Scholes plays he also needs a minder because he has no recovery whatsoever.

    Playing both together creates another problem – no pressing from midfield and an open run at the defensive zone for the opposition with two guys (Evans and Carrick today) more concerned with “minding” than playing their own game, secure in the knowledge that their partner will not require special assistance.

    In addition, the last two matches have shown quite clearly that neither MrJones nor BigManSmalling is an adequate replacement for RedRafa at right back. Plus, NinjaEvra tends to go walkabout too often which just exacerbates the problems mentioned above.

    One other thing stood out in today’s match – AV7 used his left foot and showed us why he has no confidence with it. Valencia’s play was also quite “shambolic” – although he had acres of space he was reluctant to drive-the-line and square the ball. That creates a kind of dead-end since if he can’t play aggressively then he’s less-than-ordinary. The contrast between the latter-day AV7 and Anderson is quite astonishing. Of course, Anderson can’t get fit and stay fit so it’s an academic point.

    So, playing with three guys who were “half-men” (so to speak) this was a much more difficult match than should have been the case.

  45. AnantaxAnantax says

    Commenter said:
    Anantax @ 5:59: “Our defense is shambolic, but as I posted earlier I thought we were okay going forward.”

    Shambolic is pretty accurate BUT there are extenuating circumstances

    first, when Rio plays he requires a minder because he’s just not very mobile anymore; and,

    second, when Scholes plays he also needs a minder because he has no recovery whatsoever.

    Playing both together creates another problem – no pressing from midfield and an open run at the defensive zone for the opposition with two guys (Evans and Carrick today) more concerned with “minding” than playing their own game, secure in the knowledge that their partner will not require special assistance.

    In addition, the last two matches have shown quite clearly that neither MrJones nor BigManSmalling is an adequate replacement for RedRafa at right back. Plus, NinjaEvra tends to go walkabout too often which just exacerbates the problems mentioned above.

    One other thing stood out in today’s match – AV7 used his left foot and showed us why he has no confidence with it. Valencia’s play was also quite “shambolic” – although he had acres of space he was reluctant to drive-the-line and square the ball. That creates a kind of dead-end since if he can’t play aggressively then he’s less-than-ordinary. The contrast between the latter-day AV7 and Anderson is quite astonishing. Of course, Anderson can’t get fit and stay fit so it’s an academic point.

    So, playing with three guys who were “half-men” (so to speak) this was a much more difficult match than should have been the case.

    Agree with most of what you’ve written except:

    Smalling nonwhere near Rafa on both ends but I do see glimmer of hope for Jones…I thought he was OK. I’ll give him a few games yet…

    I still have (against abundant evidence otherwise) faith that Valencia will come good, sooner or later. The last 20 mins of the game shows his promise and potential..the cross that led to RVP goal and the cross that Hernadez headed to the post….still not enough i agree, but shows promise nonetheless

    Anyhow…great game, great character, and we’re 7 points ahead despite the shambolic defending. Life is (so far) so good….

  46. Sidsidney says

    Fergie has nailed Pardrew after the cockney twat said Fergie should have been banned by the FA for ‘abusing’ the ref

    Fergie reminded everyone that Pardrew crossed the line the other month and actually physically shoved a ref – and then made a joke of it in an attempt to pass it off as high jinx

    Fergie won’t be retiring for another 5 years if he keeps going like this

  47. Minus The Bear says

    Did Pardew mention his henchmen going mental at the ref and assistants when Valencia injured Anita or has that been glossed over by the general ABU’s? I do think Fergie went over the top but the decision was an absolute clusterfuck.

  48. han says

    SAF should have just laughed this off and given that twat a call and told him to fuck off rather than come out the way he has
    just gives more ammo to the ABU party

  49. Sidsidney says

    The ABUs take the heat off the players though.

    We almost fucked up that 6 point lead. Within two games it could have disappeared. This is the team that bottled an 8 point lead last season n all. So that’s what the press would be focussing on if Fergie gobbing off.

  50. sheesh says

    Say what you like about some of the decisions he makes, but there is no question that Fergie is the one and only true ‘boss’ (in English football at least) and the other managers know this – or should do, in the case of Pardew.
    Pardew has been well and truly put in his place. There’s a saying that you should pick your battles wisely. He just took on the wrong guy.

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