Manchester United will face Newcastle United at OldTrafford in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. United have not been defeated by Newcastle since that match at St James’ Park on the 6 October 2019 – winning four and drawing once in the five matches since that defeat.
Because of Saudi investment and the fact the club has signed better players, some Newcastle players seem to think they are something to stand in the way of clubs this season. They are much better but not league winners or anything magnificent.
Eddie Howe seems to believe that the Magpies could be just as big as United in the years to some. Perhaps he has too much believe seeing as the Magpies have never been as big as United. It is 96 years next year since their last top flight league title. They have hope though.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Shaw;
Antony, Fernandes, Rashford;
Goalkeeper: De Gea
David De Gea has been playing well recently for United. In the last two matches, he has even left his area to help United out, which is a sign that he is learning a new playing style and has the confidence to do these new things, which will make United much better – whilst it works well at least.
The Spanish goalkeeper may not be heading to Qatar this year to play for Spain, which will leave him some time in Manchester to perfect his new job in goal, which under Erik ten Hag will require some changes. The player could be out of contract in the summer, so has work to do if he wants to stay.
Francis Uzoho, the Omonia Nicosia goalkeeper was a great watch on Thursday evening, which will have impressed Ten Hag. Maybe United will continue to scout the player this season as at 23 he has his entire career ahead of him. De Gea will not be the United goalkeeper forever.
Defenders: Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Shaw
United’s defence has been playing well at stages this season and Lisandro Martinez is a big part of that. Him partnered with Raphael Varane is a good thing for United as the duo work well together. However, Varane’s recent injuries have been problematic leading to Victor Lindelof playing.
Lindelof has done well when called upon this season but has panicked at times, which has caused problems. United did not have much defending to do against Omonia on Thursday evening, which was a good thing. With Varane fit, Lindelof will remain on the bench for now.
In the fullback positions, United will remain with Diogo Dalot, who is wanted by Barcelona and rumours suggest that United will be offering him a new contract. On the left side will be Luke Shaw, who was an upgrade on Tyrell Malacia on Thursday, hopefully reaching match fitness and form.
Midfield: Casemiro, Eriksen
Scott McTominay was the start of the show against Omonia Nicosia on Thursday evening after he scored the winner in added time to give United three points in the UEFA Europa League. However, after five yellow cards in the Premier League, he is suspended for this match.
That will leave Christian Eriksen to step in and replaced Fred, who started for United on Thursday, partnering Casemiro. Eriksen was missed against Omonia and he could have been the difference if he had started. He played for 20 minutes, so should be fresh to start this match.
Casemiro has started to find his feet at United, putting in a Man of the Match performance in the 2-1 victory over Everton last weekend and playing a positive role against Omonia to grind out the win which saw United dominate in possession and attacking stats.
Attacking Midfield: Antony, Fernandes, Rashford
United have some great players in these positions. Bruno Fernandes made the UEFA Europa League Team of the Week for his performance against Omonia despite not actually scoring or creating a goal. He did work hard and pushed for United though. He should be starting against Newcastle.
Antony did not perform all that greatly against Omonia and was carried in some parts of the game. However, in the Premier League, he has three goals in three appearances, so should start and could well be replaced by Jadon Sancho once again later in the match.
Sancho did well on Thursday, starting the goal which McTominay scored to win the game. One player that is undroppage right now is Marcus Rashford. He had so many chances against Omonia and seems to be heading in the right direction regarding his form at this stage of the season.
Cristiano Ronaldo will probably start for United against Newcastle on Sunday. In his first appearance against Newcastle since 2009, just after he re-signed for United last summer, he scored a brace for United at the Theatre of Dreams. He will be looking to score more goals this season.
Fresh from his 700th club career goal, that inspiration to score more will be at the front of his mind. He tried to get goals against Omonia Nicosia on Thursday evening. Anthony Martial could well be fit to face Newcastle this weekend, but will he have the fitness to start and play 90 minutes?
That is the major question. Martial has not yet played 90 minutes in one match this season, playing 133 minutes in four appearances, scoring three goals and two assists. He is on fire in that regard but needs to be 100% fit to play, otherwise he is going to get injured again and again.
Substitutes: Heaton; Lindelof, Malacia; Fred, Pellistri, Iqbal; Martial, Sancho, Elanga
Erik ten Hag will have the choice of nine substitutes on the bench for the next three matches in a row with all of them in the Premier League before the UEFA Europa League matches return later this month. Martin Dubravka is not eligible to face Newcastle so Tom Heaton will be on the bench.
In defence, with Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka still unavailable through injury, Ten Hag will have Victor Lindelof and Tyrell Malacia if he needs to make any defensive changes. In midfield, with Scott McTominay suspended, Fred, Facundo Pellistri and Zidane Iqbal could be called upon.
In attack, which is where United have the most depth this season, especially is Anthony Martial is fit to play a part in the game. Ten Hag will have Martial, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga. If Martial is not fit, Alejandro Garnacho could be included in the squad to face the Magpies.
Written by John Walker