United vs. United at Old Trafford should, with the nature of both clubs’ tradition and style of play, be a corker.
This fixture, both at Old Trafford and ‘the whoever wants to sponsor St. James’ Park’, has thrown up some classic moments. Who can forget Rooney interrupting his barracking of the ref to volley in from twenty five plus yards? What about Cantona’s half volley to secure a 1-0 away win as both teams were fighting for the league? Also, for Newcastle fans, what about the 5-0 win secured with a moustache-less Albert chipping in from the edge of the area?
After the United of the Manchester variety’s 2-2 draw at home to Benfica midweek fans will be hoping for what Alan Pardew is fearing. Earlier in the week he stated “I know he (Ferguson) will be smarting from Wednesday’s draw, so unfortunately, we are on the back of a negative from Manchester United’s point of view, so it will be a tough game for us.” History of this Old Trafford fixture would suggest that Newcastle should be wary indeed for they haven’t recorded a victory there since February 1972.
United’s team selection, as I’ve been finding out in my début season of match previewing, is nigh on impossible to predict. The midfield selection is the one that is causing most discussion and debate amongst United fans too. At the start of the season I championed Anderson and Cleverley as a pairing, noting, especially, Anderson’s need to step up to the Scholes shaped plate. I honestly feel that in games he’s played in he has and Cleverley, as we know, has began his senior United career very well. Isn’t it, therefore, sod’s law that both are victims of long term injury?
However, one of the real plus points to come from the disappointing draw with Benfica was Carrick’s performance. I’m not going to put him in the same league as Xavi and Iniesta as, quite simply, he’s not. However, the Geordie man’s performance was very classy indeed. I recognise that he’s not everyone’s cup of tea but his ability to always find a pass and keep possession is something that will serve United well against Newcastle and for the coming months. His partner in midfield could be any from Fletcher, Giggs, Jones or Rooney.
In goal de Gea, poor clearance aside, has been improving week after week and appears to be making a real name for himself at Old Trafford. His defence should be a little more steady with the impending return of Vidic at the heart of it whilst the da Silva twins, Ferdinand and Smalling will be fighting it for the remaining spaces.
Out wide I think that Nani has to play and Young still needs to be afforded more game time to get back to the form he playing at prior to the City loss. This would leave Valencia on the bench but, in my opinion, that wouldn’t be a massive loss as his form his been too poor recently. He’s forever trying to cut inside and, as such a one-footed player, he should really be pushing for the by-line and getting in some crosses.
Up front one of my favourite United players had a blinder (winning volley chance forgotten). Berbatov, one who can split fans’ opinion much like he can a defence with a through ball, made Sir Alex think with his performance. His composure on the ball and vision is something that could prove invaluable against this Newcastle defence. That, then, leaves the issue of who could partner him? Hernandez, with his incredible strike rate this season, has to start you could argue and so does Rooney. How does Fergie fit three into two? I’m sure he’ll find a way. That’s why he’s managing them and I’m writing this! (Also, Macheda has tweeted that he’s in the squad so could he be in with a surprise shout?)
As for Newcastle, they bring with them ex-United winger, Obertan, and defender, Simpson. I said to my Newcastle supporting boss that their brilliant start to the season would be severely tested during these winter months. Whilst they did brilliantly to stay unbeat-toon for so long they didn’t really come up against quality opposition until meeting City. There they struggled and I foresee a real struggle for them at Old Trafford. A two goal victory for the home team here.