At St. James’ Park, sorry, the Sports Direct Arena, the United of the North West take on the United of the North East in a match that some pundits are saying could end Manchester United’s title charge before it even begins. I’ve a feeling that this fixture could be a real end to end classic, a throwback to the Keegan vs Fergie days where attacks rather than defences won the day. We could see a 3-2 or 4-3 such are the shortcomings and injuries to both defences at the moment.
Sir Alex needs, for the sake of the club and the players concerned, to settle on a number one. There was a great article in the week that said the chopping and changing between the ‘keepers is akin to Roy Carroll and Tim Howard rotating the shirt many moons ago. It’s not good for anyone concerned and I, for one hope that De Gea is given a chance to play.
Defence is likely to see Rafael carry on his recent form at right back and England-reject Rio start in the middle. Jonny Evans has apparently recovered from his dead leg and, by all accounts, Chris Smalling could be set for a shock return. However, with Ba and Cisse likely to start up front for Newcastle it’s unlikely that Smalling will be thrown into the lions’ den. At left back Buttner will be champing at the bit to get a start and Evra may be ready for a rest. I’m not jumping on any bandwagon and certainly don’t think he’s as bad as much of the Twitter brigade do but he has been found wanting recently.
The victory against Cluj was realised without Carrick, Giggs and Scholes which would point towards at least one of them starting in the North East. Many fans, this one included, will be praying that not all three start together. Jay’s article, here, was a great look at what our midfield could and maybe should look like. I don’t think Carrick and Scholes can play together at the moment and if Scholes starts then Giggs certainly can’t. I’d like to see Cleverley, Anderson and Fletcher given another chance to play together.
Ferguson is very likely to partner Rooney and Van Persie together again but whether he pairs them with Kagawa, Welbeck or Hernandez will prove interesting. Whoever out of that selection starts will have a massive impact on the formation that we start with.
For Newcastle Steve Harper looks likely to start in goal with Tim Krul out with an elbow injury. Injuries to Colocinni, Steven Taylor and Ryan Taylor mean that the Newcastle defence will be, at least, as shaky as ours!
- Newcastle have only won one of the past ten Premier League meetings (a 3-0 win in January).
- The highest scoring match between the two was 7-3 to Newcastle in 1960.
- Manchester United have conceded the first goal in five of their six league games this season.
- Van Persie has scored seven in seven across all competitions.
- Demba Ba has six Premier League goals.
This promises to be a classic with goals aplenty. Hopefully Manchester United’s greater experience will come through and see them home. If they don’t and suffer defeat it’ll be the first time they’ve suffered three defeats in their opening seven since 1989. Due to the fact that our defence is less injury ravaged than theirs and we’ve had two days extra to prepare I fancy the United of the North West to edge a high scoring fixture.
Bet a Quid and Win Big
Demba Ba to score first and Manchester United to win 3-2 at 210/1 with William Hill.
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