Boxing Day in sports is famous for history & high voltage clashes all around the world. This year, it could only get better for the fans of both the Red Devils & the Magpies to watch their teams battling out for 3 vital points. Every football fan out there knows there’s so much history between these two teams & Boxing Day could only motivate the players of both these teams to edge each other to the top. Manchester United will be looking to return to winning ways after being held away against an impressive Swansea just as we had predicted, whereas Newcastle will be looking to extend their victory against QPR over the weekend with a win here at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils would have been disappointed to see their lead atop cut down to 4 points over the weekend, thanks to the wonderful home form of Swansea City. They were lucky enough to come away with a point, which portrayed a few chunks of hole in the armoury of their defense. With just 3 clean sheets in 18 matches, the back four looks more vulnerable to leak goals. Thanks to the Spaniard David De Gea’s impressive form off late, they have been getting away with 3 points more often despite having a shaky defense. It was a weekend to forget for Rooney-RVP combination as they were unable to crack through a solid Swansea defense, but we can expect them to score for two reasons this mid-week – Newcastle have conceded one goal more than United going into the match and their back four along with the recently returned keeper Krul are yet to gain that confidence from the last season, which won them plaudits all over for Pardew and his team.
“Shaky and inconsistent” would best describe the current form of The Magpies. With 2 wins and 4 losses in the last 6 matches and scraping through a 1-0 win against a struggling QPR side, the confidence of Newcastle players must be rock bottom. While Alan Pardew won lots of plaudits for his tactical senses last season, he has been his impostor this season looking clueless with each and every match. Injury woes haven’t helped him either having lost his key defenders, his star midfielder and his keeper out for a long time! Going into the match, the mid-field of the Magpies has failed to keep up to expectations, which has put pressure on Ba-Cisse to take huge responsibility of scoring goals each time Newcastle take to pitch. Everyone would agree that there’s so much potential in the team, if only Pardew can weave his magic and get things back to normal or else he would be facing the chin music himself as they are a lowly 14th after 18 matches.
Manchester United: Rafael is still a doubt due to a hamstring injury keeping him out while Long term absentees Kagawa & Nani are still sidelined.
Newcastle United: Pardew will have only his long-term absentees missing for the game at Old Trafford, with Hatem Ben Arfa, Steven Taylor (both hamstring), Yohan Cabaye (groin) and Ryan Taylor (knee) sidelined.
Manchester United (from): Lindegaard, De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Vidic, Ferdinand Evans, Buttner, Evra, Cleverley, Giggs, Fletcher, Scholes, Carrick, Young, Hernandez, Welbeck, Rooney, Van Persie.
Newcastle United (from): Krul, Elliot, Harper, Simpson, Santon, Ferguson, Tavernier, Coloccini, Williamson, Perch, Anita, Bigirimana, Gutierrez, Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi, Obertan, Ba, Cisse, Shola Ameobi, Ranger.
It was a 1-1 draw when these two teams met at Old Trafford last for a Premier League fixture, which seems like ages ago for Pardew’s men. A 2-1 victory in the Capital One cup at home and 3-0 victory this season at St.James Park in the Premier League were both a sweet revenge for the Red Devils.
Rooney and RVP are just 1 yellow card away each, from getting an automatic 1 game suspension. While Newcastle will already be without their midfielder, Cheick Tiote who is suspended for one match after collecting his 5th yellow card during the 1-0 victory against QPR.
Rooney-RVP together have scored 19 times in Premier League this season whereas Newcastle have just 20 goals combined over 18 games with Demba Ba having scored 11 times, putting huge pressure on him every time he touches the ball, expecting to score.
Manchester United’s 3-0 win away earlier this season and 3 defeats in the last 3 away games for Newcastle gives us an overall view that Newcastle are a club in the decline unless they sort out their woes soon! With their shaky defense which is even shakier than the current league leaders, we at SoccerSouls cannot but predict a Manchester United victory to maintain a 4 point lead atop over the half season.
For Manchester UTD – 3-1 (a win)
For Newcastle United – 2-2 (a draw)