A fixture with a big history behind it, but one that means more to us than most this time – especially when results didn’t exactly go our way in the league today.
Aside from Palace losing 3-1 at Everton and Stoke and Brighton drawing in a pretty ideal result for NUFC, Swansea won yet again with a 1-0 victory at home to Burnley (makes our home draws to both of them even more frustrating now) and West Ham moved 5 points clear with a big 2-0 win at home to Watford.
Normally this would be a game where we’d see anything as a bonus, but in our current situation and the tough 12 fixtures we’re set to face between now and the end of the season, you get the feeling we’ll have to pull off the odd surprise result if we’re going to make sure we’re safe come mid May.
Could this be it? Let’s hope so. Although we’ll have to be at it from first minute to last if we’re going to get a result against the leagues second place side.
The Team I’d like to see start
Slimani to make his debut? I hope so. If so we’ll likely see him with Perez in the 10 role to support him in attack. It will be interesting to see how that works as Perez used to thrive when playing alongside Aleksandar Mitrovic a few seasons ago.
Merino and Diame in midfield, with the pair controlling our last home game against Burnley. Shelvey’s quality is sometimes needed in big games like these (see assists for Joselu in 1-1 draw with Liverpool), however his work off the ball is questionable (see 2nd half vs Palace).
In defence, Clark may actually miss out, but providing he’s fit I can’t see anything other than that back four. If not, we could see the return of Lejeune, however Chancel Mbemba could play given Man Utd’s pace in forward areas and Lejeune’s lack of football recently.
The in goal, I think Dubravka *might* just start. Rafa praised his character and ball playing skills this week, and both could put him in good stead to make a positive impression on Sunday. Darlow did little to convince Rafa he’s the man for the big occasion in his shaky second half display at Selhurst park..
Aside from the obvious stars in their side (Lukaku, Sanchez, Pogba, De Gea), here’s a few ‘ones to watch’ for the visiting side tomorrow:
Antonio Valencia – The most obvious one and one of the best players outside the top 6 for me. He’s their match winner and an explosive talent who is so hard to keep quite. Stopping him will be the key tomorrow – especially with Sako and Townsend set to miss out.
Juan Mata – He tends to do well at St James’ Park and have been quietly doing very well in a playmaker role for Man Utd over the past few weeks. He’s a clever player who
Anthony Martial – If he stars then Yedlin could have a big problem. He’s a similar build and has a similar style of play to Watford’s Richarlison – a player the American had huge problems dealing with in the 0-3 defeat at St James’ a few months back. Martial is direct and has started 2018 strongly, with 3 goals and 2 assists last month. It will be interesting to see if he does play on the left-wing however, with that being his best position, but a role Sanchez could now take up following his signing.
For an inside look into tomorrow’s opponents, take a look at this week’s edition of the ‘Opposition Opinion’ . A great insight into tomorrow’s opponents from a Man Utd fan.
Newcastle – 16th (25 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 1 / Drawn: 3 / Lost: 1
Man Utd – 2nd (56 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 4 / Drawn: 0 / Lost: 1
New-boys Slimani and Dubravka could make their NUFC debuts, with the former expected to start.
Joselu has overcame a virus and Clark and Diame will be ‘OK’ after Benitez admitted they picked up knocks in the draw at Palace.
For Mourinho, Ibrahimovic, Blind, Baily and Fellaini have been ruled out through injury.
Predicted NUFC XI – (4-2-3-1) – Darlow – Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett – Diame, Merino – Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy– Slimani
Predicted Man Utd XI – (4-2-3-1) – De Gea – Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Young – Matic, Pogba – Martial, Mata, Sanchez – Lukaku.
I’ve got a good feeling about this one, but only if Slimani starts.
His presence in the starting 11 would give the fans a huge boost ahead of kick off and he could really get the fans going if he can hit the ground running. One things for sure, I expect us to be well up for this and am quite confident that Slimani will automatically give us much more of a goal threat than we’ve seen over recent weeks.
They’ve got bags of talent and tend to be hard to beat, but I think we’ll rough them up a little, get in their faces and make it difficult.
Providing we get a solid start, I see us getting something from this. Something’s been telling me we’ll win all week, but I’ll go for a draw as I’m not totally convinced we’ll keep them at bay and get many past the incredible David De Gea at the other end.
Prediction: Newcastle 2-2 Man Utd
Howay the lads!