Newcastle v Manchester United. What does it make you think of? Arguably the best game in NUFC’s recent history; the 5-0 ‘wholloping’ at SJP? What about the 3-0 win in Duncan Ferguson’s era? Maybe it’s the 4-3 ‘basketball’ match of SBR’s management? Or, are you more the ’half empty’ type? Your first thoughts being results such as 2-6 home defeat or the 6-0 Old Trafford romping of late.
Whichever way you look at this fixture, one thing is for certain – Man Utd really are the ‘Red Devils’ to Newcastle United! Take a look at the numbers…
NUFC have played Man Utd 35 times in the Premier League. They have won just 3 games, all at home, drawn 12 and lost a mighty 20 games! Newcastle haven’t won in their last 17 attempts against the current champions, their last win being the aforementioned 4-3 SJP victory in September 2001.
NUFC have only taken 5 points from the last 54, whereas their red counterparts have managed 44 and Newcastle have earned less points in fixtures against Man Utd than any other ‘regular’ team in the Premier League – just 21 points from a possible 105! Finally, the news in Manchester is that Wayne Rooney will make the game; the hair-planted forward has notched an incredible 10 goals in 17 games against NUFC in all competition, 0.59 goals per game!
Pretty dire reading! But, it’s not all doom and gloom. In the most recent fixture, Newcastle came away from Old Trafford with a very hard earned, albeit lucky, point and Man Utd lost their last game at home to struggling Blackburn. They also have their solid captain Nemanja Vidic out injured as well as Ashley Young, who has been a menace to Newcastle United in recent years.
What can Newcastle do?
Accept that they’re the underdog! – Man Utd have a win % of 73.68 this season alone.
They’ll find it hard to score – Utd have the most clean sheets in the PL with 10 and have the best record when doing so, winning every game.
Be patient – Man Utd have won more first half points than any other team and they’ve only conceded 4 goals in the first half of games – the PL average is 12.
Be persistent and resilient – Man Utd have earned 11 wins from the 12 games where they have been winning at half time. The other was a draw.
Defend! – Utd currently produce the most shots per game on average in the PL with 19, a record shared with Tottenham. Furthermore, alongside Spurs and City, Man Utd get more shots on target per game than any other side in the PL.
Defend! – Only City have scored more goals from open play – 33 to NUFC’s 19.
Concede possession – 4 teams have more possession than Man U on average in the PL, but it still stands at a ‘lion sized’ 55.2%. Moreover, only City spend less time in the defending 3rd in possession (30%) and only Liverpool & Everton spend more time in final 3rd in possession.
Be organised – United have scored the 2nd most goals from set pieces in the league – 11
Defend the cross – The Manchester reds produce the 3rd most crosses on average per game after Liverpool & Everton.
Get wide – Man U concede the 2nd least % of shots from the middle.
Who to watch:
It goes without saying that Rooney needs an eye kept on him all game. He has13 PL goals to his name already and presently manufactures the 2nd most shots per game on average after Robin van Persie with 4.6. However, he’s not the only player Newcastle need to keep tabs on. Luis Nani is in sparkling, yet somewhat unnoticed form!
He has put together the 2nd most assists in the league this season so far with 7 and he makes the joint 3rd most key passes. He has created the 5th most successful dribbles in the division; 51 altogether at 72% success rate and he gets crosses in – 149 at 22% accuracy. Surprisingly, Nani plays more passes in the attacking half than Wayne Rooney, but just! 685 to 657 respectively, but Rooney’s are more accurate. Nani has also created 51 scoring chances for the Devils compared to Rooney’s 29, 34 of which are from open play.
In terms of their defence, NUFC should stay clear of Patrice Evra. The Frenchman has had the most touches for Utd this season and from his ‘most tackles’ title, he has won the highest % also (38/48). Evra also wins possession in the defending 3rd more than any other player at Man Utd.
So, tasty reading from the numbers. In recent years, Newcastle have struggled against Man Utd more than any other team in the Premier League – from the days when the two clubs were fighting for the title to the days where NUFC were just dust in the Man U trophy cabinet. This game, even at home, will be as tough as any and judging by the Black & Whites’ recent games against the ‘big teams’, this one could be over before it’s started…or could it?
As they say, there’s no time like the present and surely Newcastle are due a victory against Rudolph’s red’s sometime soon?! With Cheik Tiote and Demba Ba leaving camp soon, will they be in the mood to do some lasting damage to the opposition and leave Tyneside on a real high, or will they have one eye already on the ACN and saving their hunger & desire for their nation?!
NUFC_Stats prediction: 0-2