Preview: Beating the Magpies is what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must achieve on Boxing Day; winning is the ONLY answer!

Manchester United -v- Newcastle United

Premier League

Old Trafford, Watford

Thursday 26 December 2019, KO 17:30 GMT

Referee: Kevin Friend Assistants: Adrian Holmes; Darren Cann Fourth Official: Oliver Langford 

VAR: Mike Dean Assistant VAR: Ian Hussin

Manchester United will be back in Premier League action at Old Trafford as they face Newcastle United on Boxing Day. It will be the second time that Amazon Prime has broadcast matches in the competition this season – and will be the final time also. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to bounce back from poor league performances after beating both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

In the matches following the victories over Spurs and City, United have drawn 2-2 against Everton and lost 2-0 to Watford. Wins in both of those matches could have left United on the cusp of breaking into the top four of the Premier League, which is where they will need to finish at the end of the season to get back into the UEFA Champions League – although they could achieve the same by winning the UEFA Europa League.

Form: Four wins, one draw and one defeat for United with Newcastle winning three, drawing once and losing twice in the last six matches. This could be a match for United to prove they can win.

Manchester United: LWDWWW

Watford 2-0 L, Colchester United 3-0 W, Everton 1-1 D, AZ Alkmaar 4-0 W, Manchester City 2-1 W, Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 W

Newcastle United: WLWWDL

Crystal Palace 1-0 W, Burnley 1-0 L, Southampton 2-1 W, Sheffield United 2-0 W, Manchester City 2-2 D, Aston Villa 2-0 L

Top Scorers: Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood out to prove themselves after a poor defeat to Watford? The duo have outscored Newcastle between them.

Manchester United Goals: 14 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, 3 – Daniel James, Scott McTominay, 2 – Own Goal, 1 – Victor Lindelof, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Brandon Williams, Ashley Young

United had a very poor game of football away to Watford at the weekend. There was a lack of desire and determination in the game and changes are needed to get the best for the club. There are players in this team who are running out of chances and the manager needs to stand up and make those changes. United need to be in a much better position than they were. The victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City mean very little after drawing to Everton and losing to Watford.

Newcastle United Goals: 5 – Jonjo Shelvey, 2 – Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernández, Jetro Willems, 1 – Miguel Almirón, Joelinton, Jamaal Lascelles, Matthew Longstaff, Yoshinori Muto, Allan Saint-Maximin, Fabian Schär, DeAndre Yedlin

Newcastle are level with United (on points) but sit below them in ninth place in the Premier League table. It just shows how poor United have been of late as they were on the cusp of top four but clearly did not want to achieve that. The Magpies have a minus six goal difference with United on a plus four but a victory over them will see the Magpies rise up the league table. United should be fired up to win this match and turn another corner on the road to consistency.

Team News: Paul Pogba to start for United against Newcastle? Axel Tuanzebe to miss the visit of Newcastle?

Paul Pogba should return to the starting XI against Newcastle after his performance against Watford, despite playing around 30 minutes of the match including added time. If he’s ready to perform for the club it could be the best thing to happen this Christmas for United. I have been a critic of Pogba because he only seems to play well when he wants to, or that is the way I have seen it although others have constantly defended him.

Axel Tuanzebe could be missing from the match suffering from a hamstring injury which will subject him to a late injury test. I would have liked to see him alongside Harry Maguire but that could well come against Burnley on Saturday evening. Eric Bailly, Tim Fosu-Mensah and Marcos Rojo will also be missing, as they have been all season (Bailly and Fosu-Mensah) and since November for Rojo.

Newcastle are set to be without Ciaran Clark, Jamaal Lascelles, Matt Ritchie, and Allan Saint-Maximin for the trip to Old Trafford. There will be late fitness tests for the trio of Jetro Willems, Ki Sung-Yeung, and Paul Dummett so Steve Bruce may have more players at his perusal. However, he could be missing seven players for this match which could be problematic for Newcastle, especially with United wanting to hit back.

Predicted Starting XI: Mason Greenwood to lead the line against Newcastle with Anthony Martial not living up to expectations as the main striker in the team?

I would like to see Mason Greenwood lead the line against Newcastle. In the past few matches, despite Anthony Martial scoring against Colchester United last week, he has just not done what a striker playing for United should have been doing. He was poor against Watford, who were the bottom placed team in the Premier League going into that match. United need a predator in the box and Greenwood could be just that.

Match Prediction: United to return to winning ways in the Premier League by beating Newcastle at the Theatre of Dreams on Boxing Day?

United and Newcastle have played a total of 168 matches in this history of both clubs with the first match being played in 1895. United have won 86 times, drawn 39 times and lost 43 times. The last defeat to Newcastle came in the Premier League back in October 2019, a 1-0 defeat at St James’ Park with Matty Longstaff scoring the only goal of the game in the 72nd minute – a poor result and performance for United.

Newcastle have not won at Old Trafford in the Premier League since their 1-0 victory on the 7 December 2013 with Yohan Cabaye scoring the only goal of that game. Since then, four matches have been played at Old Trafford with United winning three times and drawing once. This will be the 50th match between United and Newcastle in the Premier League. United have won 28 times, drawing 14 and losing seven times.

Manchester United 2-1 Newcastle United

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.