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Preview: Manchester United to send that ‘wee club’ back to the North East!

Manchester United -v- Newcastle United

Premier League 2017/18

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 18th November 2017; KO 17:30 BST

Live on BT Sport HD in the United Kingdom

Manchester United face Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Saturday evening, the first game back after the final international break of 2017. It has been more than two years since Newcastle last travelled to the Theatre of Dreams. That match was a letdown, a 0-0 draw which has seen five of the starting players from that match leave the club. United started the season in good stead, beating their opposition but with injuries to the side, United lost a lot of oomph which has seen the squad struggle to put their opposition at bay, finish them or even get involved in matches. With injuries ending, which is boosting United this weekend, the return of Marcos Rojo, Paul Pogba, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be welcomed, at least by the Old Trafford faithful.

During the time Pogba has been out of action, United have struggled in midfield, a bit like they did before he arrived at the club. Ander Herrera has not been able to fill the void and the injury to Marouane Fellaini, which ended before the international break, saw United struggle immensely. With Pogba, United had a 75% chance of winning matches, which was reduced to 57% without the Frenchman. If you ask a rival supporter about Pogba, they will still mock the transfer fee for the player, ignoring what he does for United – deep down wishing he wore their clubs shirt. I would not swap that for the world though. When Paul Pogba gets praised, rival fans hate him and United even more – something which has been lacking for around five years now!

When you look at the stats above, you see the influence Pogba has on matches, which Jose Mourinho has effectively confirmed, albeit in his own way, during his press conference on Friday afternoon. The Manchester United manager said:

“You can clearly see Manchester United this season before Paul [Pogba’s] injury and after Paul’s injury. It’s as simple as that.”

Previous Matches:

Manchester United and Newcastle United have played 163 matches in the history of both clubs – the first on the 6th April 1895, a 5-1 victory for Newton Heath in the old Football League Division Two. United have won 83 times, losing 41 times and drawing 39 times. United are in the best form going into this match, but as that ‘wee club from the North East,’ they will see it as their cup final and probably try to be the first team to travel to and win at Old Trafford in 14 months. United are unbeaten in their last five matches against Newcastle, winning three and drawing two – the last two times both clubs have faced each other. Newcastle last beat United at Old Trafford on the 7th December 2013 with Yohan Cabaye scoring the winner in the 61st minute of the match. Nine of the starting XI players in that match are no longer at United.

Form: United the better of the two teams this season but they need to show Manchester City they are not afraid

Manchester United started the season in good stead, winning their first two matches by the same 4-0 scoreline. The 0-0 draw at Anfield against Liverpool was the start of the lacklustre approach for United, which came and went at times with high scoring victories in the UEFA Champions League and the Premier League following. With injuries taking the creativity and experience from the squad, United have been playing terribly recently, losing 2-1 away to Huddersfield Town and recently losing 1-0 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. United will be boosted with the return of Paul Pogba, Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – something which could inspire them to victory.

Newcastle United have not had a great start in their first season back in the Premier League. Rafa Benitez’s side have won just four matches of the eleven played, drawing twice and losing five times. This Newcastle side may have what it takes to remain a Premier League team this season, but against a strong United team, they may not have a chance. Newcastle were the champions of the Championship last season, but winning trophies is not something they will achieve in the league this season, seeming far from a side capable of challenging for a European place, let alone a place in the top four. Stranger things have happened though, but I doubt my words will come back to haunt me.

Team News: Marcos Rojo, Paul Pogba, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all fit to face Newcastle United

Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Marcos Rojo (made his comeback for the U23’s this week), Paul Pogba, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are all fit to return against Newcastle United at Old Trafford this weekend. United have missed the creativity of Pogba, having a 75% chance of winning with the Frenchman which reduces to 57% without him. Ibrahimovic is a player United have missed also, which has seen Romelu Lukaku being relied upon, failing to score in any United matches between the two international breaks. Mourinho, speaking in his press conference on Friday, confirmed:

“He made a full recovery. Now you cannot expect him to be ready to play 90 minutes or to be ready to play consecutive matches like he did all his career. Now he needs time to be back to his level, his fitness, his confidence, his sharpness, his everything. But, from the clinical point of view, to be good and ready is fantastic.”

Mourinho also confirmed that Ibrahimovic will not be thrown into the action, starting him on the bench first of all:

“As a start, I see him on the bench and it’s where I see him. It’s where he’s going to be tomorrow [Saturday], on the bench.”

Predicted Starting XI: Romelu Lukaku boosted after becoming Belgium’s highest ever scorer at 24; Ibrahimovic to boost him too!

Match Prediction: United out to show Old Trafford is a fortress once again, hopefully humiliating Rafa Benitez and that wee club in the North East

Manchester United 3-0 Newcastle United

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