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Preview: Ronaldo return to boost United against the Magpies; Van de Beek to start too?

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Manchester United -v- Newcastle United

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 11 September 2021, KO 15:00 BST

Referee: Anthony Taylor Assistants: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn

Fourth Official: John Brooks

VAR: Craig Pawson Assistant VAR: Scott Ledger

Manchester United will be back in Premier League action when they welcome Newcastle United to Old Trafford in a traditional 3pm kick-off on Saturday afternoon. It was something that was lacking last season for United with few traditional Saturday afternoon matches because of a mixture of playing in the UEFA Europa League and matches being selected for television in the United Kingdom. This match has not been selected for TV in the UK, which is a shame as it will mark the return to the Theatre of Dreams of Cristiano Ronaldo, who re-signed for the Old Trafford club during the summer.

The first international break of the new season has just finished, which is always a daunting though so early into the new season with only three Premier League matches played before a break in the season, which then results in the return of the UEFA Champions League and the Carabao Cup in the coming weeks with United returning to the elite European competition on Tuesday evening, then starting their pursuit of the League Cup the following Wednesday. This is the crucial point of the season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seeking to ensure he has enough players in rotation for the upcoming matches.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: WDWWDL

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 W, Southampton 1-1 D, Leeds United 5-1 W, Everton 4-0 W, Brentford 2-2 D, Queens Park Rangers 4-2 L

Goals: 3 – Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, 1 – Fred

Assists: 5 – Paul Pogba, 1 – Victor Lindelof, Raphael Varane

Newcastle United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: DLLLWW

Southampton 2-2 D, Burnley 0-0 (4-3 pens) L, Aston Villa 2-0 L, West Ham United 4-2 L, Norwich City 3-0 W, Burton Albion 2-0 W

Goals: 2 – Callum Wilson, 1 – Jacob Murphy, Allan Saint-Maximin

Assists: 1 – Jacob Murphy, Matt Ritchie, Allan Saint-Maximin

Previous meetings with Newcastle United and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Newcastle have met a total of 52 times in the Premier League. United have won a total of 31 matches, drawing 14 with the Magpies winning seven times. United have scored 108 goals, winning three penalties and scoring two of them. The Magpies have scored 53 goals, winning three penalties and scoring all of them. United have kept 19 clean sheets with the Magpies keeping 11. A total of 171 yellow cards have bene shown in matches between United and Newcastle with the Red Devils shown 86 and the Magpies shown 85. There have been six red cards – three for each team.

Last season, United beat Newcastle 3-1 at Old Trafford and 4-1 at St Jame’s Park. In recent history, there have been 11 players to play for both United and Newcastle – Peter Beardsley, Keith Gillespie, Andy Cole, Ronny Johnsen, Nicky Butt, Guiseppe Rossi, Danny Simpson, Alan Smith, Louis Saha, Gabriel Obertan and Michael Owen. Of these players, Andy Cole is perhaps the best performing player and most effective signing – the only one coming from Newcastle for a fee (£6 million and Gillespie back in 1995. Michael Owen, who has since turned him back on United, despite winning his only ever Premier League title at the club, was another.

Team News: Cristiano Ronaldo seeking to start on Old Trafford return. Four players ruled out for United through injury, one banned by FIFA, another still recovering and one to face a late fitness test.

Dean Henderson (Fitness), Alex Telles (Ankle/Foot), Amad Diallo (Thigh) and Marcus Rashford (Shoulder) have all been ruled out of the clash against Newcastle at Old Trafford. Fred (FIFA Regulations: Five-day rule) sees the Brazilian ineligible for face both Newcastle and Young Boys with Phil Jones (Knee) likely to miss another match this season following the recovery of a knee injury which kept him out last season. Scott McTominay (Groin/Hip/Pelvic) will be subject to a late fitness test ahead of the match after returning to training earlier in the week. Jadon Sancho, who withdrew from England duty this week, is available again.

Elliott Anderson (Groin/Hip/Pelvic), Callum Wilson (Thigh), Jonjo Shelvey (Calf/Shin/Heel) and Martin Dubravka (Ankle/Foot) have all been ruled out of the trip to Old Trafford to take on United. Ryan Fraser (Ankle/Foot) is a major doubt for the match, whereas Karl Darlow (other) will undergo a late fitness test and both Paul Dummett (Calf/Shin/Heel) and Isaac Hayden (Knee) are likely to be back in contention for this match. Newcastle have a poor record in the Premier League this season, sitting 17th at the time of writing with one point from three matches. A good result in this match could get them off the mark.

Predicted Starting XI: Cristiano Ronaldo to lead the line against the Magpies, supported by Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood. Donny van de Beek to start in midfield?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be excited ahead of the return to Old Trafford after two away matches which ended August with the club earning seven points out of nine and breaking the unbeaten on the road record, stretching it to 28 matches, breaking Arsenal’s 27-match record set in 2004. United need to have the same mindset at the Theatre of Dreams, which was where all six defeats in the Premier League happened last season. So far, after just one match at home, United are undefeated but including this one, there are 18 left to play in the league. Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford will lift the supporters and his teammates as United strive to win.

David De Gea will remain in goal for United – he has done well so far this season, despite conceding two goals so far. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw will complete the defence. A midfield duo of Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek could do well, considering the suspension Fred and the expected absence of Scott McTominay. Paul Pogba should revert back to the left with Bruno Fernandes in the middle and Mason Greenwood on the right. Ronaldo could lead the line on his Theatre of Dreams return to United, with the likes of Anthony Martial and Jadon Sancho possibly Edinson Cavani on the bench.

Match Prediction: United have the players to keep their unbeaten run going against Newcastle, winning the last three matches since that dreadful performance in October 2019.

United have started the 2021/22 season in fine form, playing three matches, winning twice and drawing once. It was a better start than the 2020/21 season which saw United defeated in the first match of the season, which was the first of six defeats that season, all of which were at Old Trafford. This is the second home match of the season and United will need to press on and send the Magpies packing. The return of Ronaldo will be a big boost, similarly to that of Raphael Varane, when he was announced as a United player ahead of the opening Premier League match of the season, the 5-1 victory over Leeds United, kicking off.

This could well be a positive season for United with the signings made and the hunger and determination on show, not to mention the fact that so many players want to achieve something under the management of Solskjaer. This will be a good season for United and hopefully it will end with at least one trophy, which will probably not be good enough for the people who always seem to edit what they said in the past, making it much harder to actually please them. What a world we live in today where people would rather be disappointed but proved correct, despite changing their stance many times, rather than supporting the manager and players.

Manchester United 3-1 Newcastle United

Written by John Walker

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copyright: JW