Saturday sees Newcastle United return to Manchester, this time to face the red half of the city.
The match actually falls on Newcastle’s 130th Anniversary and wouldn’t it be nice if we could come away with a decent result to celebrate a special day?
I didn’t manage to catch the Newcastle game against Manchester City but from what I heard we held them for most of the first half until a period of three or four minutes led to them going in with a 2-0 half-time lead. Ultimately we ended up losing that game but there were positives that Alan Pardew will have taken out of that result.
Staying positive is something that we need heading to Old Trafford. Our record there is shocking to be honest. We’ve not won there since 1972 and have been on the end of some real hammerings in recent years although there is a growing train of thought suggesting that perhaps the Red Devils aren’t quite as prolific as they once were. On that basis, what can we do to try and get a result against them?
1: Team Selection – I think the team selection against the Red Devils is going to be key. We need to put out players who will disrupt how they play and get in behind them. Against Benfica in their Champions League Tie they looked very shaky in defence and that is something that I feel we should capitalise on with our team selection.
There are a few conundrums for Alan Pardew to sort and that concerns the fitness of Gabriel Obertan and Cheik Tiote. If they are fit then it may be best to include them but is that fair on the likes of Danny Guthrie who has played well in the absence of Tiote? Currently if they were fit this is the team I would go for:
Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Gabriel Obertan, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez, Leon Best, Demba Ba
Now the reason that I have included Tiote in as I feel that if he is fully fit and ready for this game then he will be able to marshal the midfield. I think we missed his presence against Man City last week and he certainly adds a lot to the team whenever he is present. If he is not then I am sure that Danny Guthrie will be up to the job again. Now I haven’t included Hatem Ben Arfa in this formation and there is a reason for this. I was impressed with his display against Man City but I feel that the strength and height of Ba and Best will allow us to attack the defence and cause the most problems for Manchester United.
2: Nullify Nani – Porteguese winger Nani is a lively character for Manchester United and I expect him to get forward at every opportunity. He operates on the right-hand side and this will call upon Ryan Taylor and Jonas Gutierrez to work together in order to stop him getting in behind the defence.
I expect Ryan Taylor to be targeted a lot more than he has ever been before as some of his display against Man City was not his finest hour. I don’t think Santon will be risked as this is against a strong Manchester United side and I get the impression that Pardew would prefer to integrate him in an easier game. If Jonas and Raylor work alongside each other to stop Nani then that will take out of one of Man U’s main threats.
3: Target De Gea – The Spanish goalkeeper still looks shaky on occasion and I think it will take a while for him to settle into how the English game is played. That’s why I think the presence of Ba and Best will be vital in helping us to gain something against them as they are dominating figures who can boss the opposing box at corners and set pieces. I would also try long range shots against the young goalkeeper as it still doesn’t seem like he is confident in his new surroundings.
4: Pace – For us I think using pace would be a good way to exploit Manchester United. Rio Ferdinand isn’t as fast as he used to be and I think if we could use Obertan in the way that we did against Stoke then I think we might get some joy from this game. It would be quite fitting if Obertan was able to show Sir A’ex what he is missing now that he has moved to St James’ Park.
These are ways in which I feel we can exploit Manchester United in order to gain a result against a top side. In recent weeks they haven’t looked as strong as they did at the start of the season and maybe now is the right time to catch them off their guard. With a strong line-up and a key players back in the fold we will be much stronger than we were against Manchester City, and if the side play with the resilience and determination that they have shown in previous games then I am sure we will be able to gain a decent result.
Howay the lads!