Manchester United are back in action in the Premier League on Saturday evening when they face Newcastle United at St James’ Park. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be looking to bounce back from that terrible 1-6 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford almost a fortnight ago which was the worst defeat under the Norwegian and United just seemed so out of pace on the pitch after the match started well with United winning a penalty in the opening two minutes of the match and taking the lead. It went downhill from there. Spurs could have scored so many more goals and United will be expected to take a stand against the Magpies.
Steve Bruce’s side has started the 2020/21 season in good stead losing just one match in their last six with was against Brighton and Hove Albion, a team which United beat twice in the space of fours days only a few weeks ago now. That said, the form that had been shown by United seems to have disappeared with the squad having to restart their season from this weekend, aiming to kick back from that defeat to Spurs. United were not the only team to be caught off guard that weekend as the reigning Premier League champions were beaten 7-2 by Aston Villa, a club that only just avoided relegation last season – yet not much has been said about that.
United made a few signings on transfer deadline day, bringing in Alex Telles, a left-back from FC Porto, free agent Edinson Cavani, who will miss this weekend’s match and could make his debut against Paris Saint-Germain next week in the UEFA Champions, Facundo Pellistri from Uruguayan side Penarol and also announced a deal to sign Amad Diallo (Traore) from Italian side Atalanta, who will sign for the club during the January transfer window. United may not have signed Jadon Sancho, but instead signing a leader (Cavani), a top class left-back and two 18-year-old right-wingers who have the raw talent to succeed at the club.
How United have faired against Newcastle United in the Premier League.
United have met the Magpies 50 times in the Premier League with United winning 29 times, drawing 14 times and losing seven times. United have scored 101 goals in these matches compared to the Magpies’ 51 – a 50 goal difference between the two sides. United have won one penalty, scoring one with the Magpies winning three and scoring three. United have kept 19 clean sheets in the 50 matches compared to the Magpies’ 11 – which shows both teams are capable of shutting up shop, in the past at least. United have been shown 84 yellow cards to the Magpies 82 with both teams having three players sent off in the 50 matches played in the Premier League.
In this fixture last season, which was played in the 6 October 2019, the Magpies beat United 1-0 with Matty Longstaff scoring the only goal of the match. United played badly in the fixture at. time whereby form was not the best at the club, which is a similar situation this season, especially after that 1-6 defeat to Spurs in the last match which was almost two weeks ago. United found their feet against the Magpies last season, winning 4-1 at Old Trafford on Boxing Day with Longstaff opening the scoring again but Anthony Martial scoring a brace, with both Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford on the scoresheet in the victory.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Newcastle United in the Premier League at St James’ Park on Saturday evening…
Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson
I’m not against David De Gea but recently, his form has been shocking and United need to find a way to bring out the best in him as it is not working for him right now. He was terrible against Spurs, but there was consistentcy throughout the team in that match as they were all terrible. During the international break, De Gea hardly gave much confidence in his performance against the Ukraine. Dean Henderson did not play for England during the international break and therefore he will be fully fresh to start for United. Solskjaer will need to find the best way for United to recover from their dip in form sooner rather than later.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles
The defence has many problems with the rest if the season ahead of the club. It is clear that the club should have backed the manager to strengthen the defence as you cannot expect to get the best out of the defenders at the club, some of whom have been prone to errors for more than a season. Harry Maguire clearly needs a break to overcome his problematic summer but unless Axel Tuanzebe is going to be fit and ready to go, it is likely that Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof will be the only players that have experience with Teden Mengi also available. In the fullback positions, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles should start against the Magpies.
Midfield Two: Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek
Paul Pogba was in dire form against Spurs and it seems obvious that his heart is not in performing for the club. His comments about Real Madrid were not surprising and it is expected that he would rather leave the club than commit to it. For that reason, nothing else, Pogba should lose his place in the team with Donny van de Beek coming in for his first Premier League start. The player has been treated unfairly since he signed for the club and has the pedigree to offer more than Pogba right now. Alongside him, Nemanja Matic. He’s not plained any international matches so will have had almost a fortnight’s break and will be ready for Saturday’s match.
Midfield Three: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford
Last season, United looked like an excellent attacking side with this trio playing behind the striker. However, this season, nothing seems to be working. The arrival of Facundo Pellistri and Edinson Cavani might change the attacking play with the former a raw talent and the latter an experienced player that could still offer something useful to the club. Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford impressed last season and so far this season, the latter has scored twice and will be seeking to offer more to his club. Greenwood has the talent and skill to thrive in this set up but United need to change their fortunes. Fernandes is the key player here.
Forward: Odion Ighalo
The Nigerian came off the bench against Crystal Palace in the first Premier League match fo the season but did not feature against Brighton and Hove Albion and Tottenham Hotspur in the league as he was not even named on the bench. With Anthony Martial suspended for the next three league matches, and the fact that Edinson Cavani cannot play against the Magpies, Ighalo could be considered to start in the Premier League but will need to get into the swing of things and find a way to deliver for the club. IN 22 appearances for the club, Ighalo has scored five goals and one assist, last scoring against Norwich City in the FA Cup last season.
Substitutes: David De Gea; Brandon Williams, Teden Mengi; Paul Pogba Juan Mata, Daniel James, Scott McTominay
United will need to have something on the bench should it be needed against the Magpies. This is not gong to be an easy match for United and the home side will be seeking to continue their good start to the season. David De Gea could find himself demoted to the bench so Solskjaer can aim to find a good mix of players to carry his team to victory. Defensively, Brandon Williams and Teden Mengi could be the only players available in this area. With Martial suspended and a lack of other attacking players able to feature this weekend, the only other players that could find themselves on the bench are Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Daniel James and Scott McTominay.
Written by John Walker