Date: 25th December 2012 at 9:23pm
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Favourites? With this man back in the side, of course we are.It’s a day of slightly dried Turkey sandwiches, left over mince pies, and finishing the Christmas day booze on Wednesday.  More importantly though, United are in action again at Old Trafford, hosting Alan Pardew’s Newcastle United.

The Geordies come to Manchester in 14th place in the Premier League, with just 20 points from 18 games.  They’ve had mixed fortunes this season, languishing in the bottom half of the table for the majority of the time, and their glittering form from last season is now just a distant memory.

Team news:

The reds are likely to make changes to the side that drew with Swansea on Sunday. Those who didn’t start that one such as Danny Welbeck, Chris Smalling and Chicharito will be hoping to get a start – and whether Sir Alex chooses to rest Wayne Rooney for this one remains to be seen.  Rafael’s inclusion is touch and go depending on whether he has recovered from a hamstring injury or not, while Anderson, Nani and Kagawa all miss out.

Newcastle have six players ruled out of Wednesday’s encounter.  Ben Arfa and Steven Taylor (both hamstring), Cabaye (groin), Gosling, Vuckic and Ryan Taylor (all knee) are all on the treatment table.  Demba Ba will again be the one we need to watch, being the Magpie’s top scorer so far this season with 11 goals.

United – Top Of The League

The reds had their lead cut to four points after their draw at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.   It’s still a nice gap, and we all know what being top of the table at Christmas has usually meant in the past.  With City playing Sunderland at the same time on Wednesday, it’s highly likely we’ll need to make sure we take all the points .

They’ve Played For Both Sides

Gabriel Obertan could figure for Newcastle.  He was signed by the visitors in the summer of 2011 from United after arriving at Old Trafford two years earlier from Bordeaux.  He was a player heralded with great potential by Alex Ferguson, but Laurent Blanc wasn’t so sure he had the ability – certainly not “United-ready” anyway.  The France U21 international failed to impress in limited chances for the reds, and went to Tyneside for £2million.

Northern Ireland’s David McCreery was another former red who ended up in the black and white stripes.  A product of United’s youth ranks, McCreery spent five years in Manchester between 1974 and 1979, playing 87 times and scoring seven goals.  He won an FA Cup Winners medal with the reds in 1977 after appearing as substitute in the 2-1 victory over Liverpool, and left the reds to join QPR.  It was Newcastle United where McCreery spent the largest part of his playing career, joining them in 1982 and appearing for them 243 times over seven years.

The Game

A bounce back is needed from United in this one.  Luck wasn’t on our side against Swansea, with the woodwork not being our friend on two occasions to stop us from taking victory.  The players and manager know that a repeat of this for a second successive game isn’t the work of wannabe champions.

With Vidic back for us in defence, we’ll hopefully have enough to snub out the threat of Ba and Cisse upfront.  The visitors haven’t been convincing in front of goal this year (20 goals), and if Ba isn’t putting the ball in the net, no-one else is scoring for them regularly at the moment.

At 5pm on Wednesday, I feel United will still sit on top of the Premier League, with our four point cushion still in tact.

Wherever you’re watching it, enjoy the game.

Follow me on Twitter: @stevecrab


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