Newcastle play host to Manchester United this afternoon looking to make a further dent in an alarming run of form against the perennial title-challengers.
Back in January we were treated to a fantastic 3-0 victory at St James’ Park courtesy of goals from Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye and an own goal from Phil Jones which gave us our only win over the Red Devils in 19 attempts.
Prior to that match Alex Ferguson’s side had lost a home game with Blackburn Rovers 3-2. This time around they arrive in the North-East having suffered defeat by the same scoreline in their last league game before the European break, this time with Tottenham Hotspur being the victors at Old Trafford. It’s all just a little bit of history repeating…
Neither side have been at their best so far this season with defensive injuries causing problems for both managers. Of course some of the effect our injuries have had on us could have been negated if, well, you know, I won’t go into that one again just now, but a repeat of the match last season would see us leapfrog Manchester United into 6th place in the table and give the plastic United their worst start to a top flight season for 23 years.
Team news: Newcastle
Davide Santon, Demba Ba, Jonas Gutierrez and Hatem Ben Arfa will all be drafted back into the side after missing out the midweek victory over Bordeuax. Danny Simpson also completed 90 minutes and is available for selection whilst Fabricio Coloccini could feature as could Steven Taylor who suffered a calf strain against Reading last weekend although the Greenwich born defender has only a slim chance of making the team. Personally I think he’ll miss out so as not to aggravate his calf further.
The news isn’t so good for Rob Elliot who was withdrawn at half-time against Bordeaux with a groin injury. He probably wouldn’t have played today anyway but his place on the bench will have to be filled. Jak Alnwick is the likely lad looking to profit from injuries to Elliot and Tim Krul. Ryan Taylor remains out.
Team news: Manchester United
Johnny Evans has recovered from a dead leg and could start in the centre of defence. Meanwhile Chris Smalling could take a place on the bench for the first time since suffering a broken foot last season. He only started training a few days ago but needs must and Smalling may find himself primed as a reserve earlier than anticipated.
Nemanja Vidic is out for at least another six weeks after undergoing surgery on his knee. Antonio Valencia is also out with an ankle injury.
Again we are going to see our attacking big-hitters back on the pitch at St James’ Park. Demba Ba will be back in the team as will Hatem Ben Arfa with the only question being how we play the trio of Ba, Cisse and Ben Arfa.
Last season a 4-4-2 and a front pairing of Ba and Shola Ameobi was highly successful on the night although it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work again. It’s worth a shot though as our attack can get at their defence if they are on song so I’d try to get both of our main strikers in the middle against a defence that has been less than impressive so far this season.
However the same can be said about Manchester United who have players in their ranks who seem to love playing against us. Wayne Rooney has scored against us nine times as a Manchester United player whilst Robin van Persie has found the back of the Newcastle net the last three times he has come up against us. Then there is Paul Scholes who has scored more goals against us than I care to remember.
It could be a case of which attack comes out on top at St James’ Park today.
Match stats and facts:
There have been 153 meetings between the two sides in all competitions. Newcastle have won just 40 of them. A win for Manchester United will see them move within three victories of doubling that tally.
Newcastle have the third best second-half record in the league. Manchester United have the best second-half record as things stand.
Shola Ameobi’s 16th minute strike against Bordeaux on Thursday was our quickest competitive goal of the season to date.
Manchester United have conceded the opening goal in five of their six Premier League games this season.
Playing Manchester United is always tough, however there are tentative signs of improvement within the Newcastle United ranks. Yohan Cabaye started to show some form against Bordeaux and showed some great passing, industry and a willingness to get forward while Cheik Tiote, whilst prone to the odd stray ball, also continued to improve. Papiss Cisse also showed he can score out of nothing and is at least working harder than he has been in the last few games.
In short we need all of our “blue chip” players to be on song this afternoon if we are to beat Manchester United. It’s something we’ve missed this season but if, or when, it happens, it can only be a good thing for us.
The Bordeaux game was the first match of the season where we looked comfortable and even though the result may not match up today I’m looking for the performance to be of a similar standard.
Howay the lads!
Date: Sunday, 7th October, 2012
Time: 4pm – Live on Sky Sports 1
Venue: St James’ Park
P.S. I got a few e-mails after our Carling Cup tie at Old Trafford a couple of weeks ago asking why I referred to Manchester United as “the plastic United” and why I kept saying “United” in reference to Newcastle. Apparently it was confusing…
I can clear this up with simple maths.
Newcastle East End + Newcastle West End = Two teams from Newcastle Uniting, hence Newcastle United.
Newton Heath LYR Football Club + 0 = A team that changed it’s name to incorporate a United, hence not really a unity, nor a real United at all.
I hope this clears things up…