Man Utd vs Newcastle: Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

It’s been a long few weeks, with the international break arriving on the back of consecutive defeats to Burnley and Bournemouth in the league.

I’m not expecting us to get back to winning ways tomorrow, but it would be a huge boost if we can put in a performance and get some sort of result at Old Trafford.

An obvious statement to make, but I’m expecting this to be a real tough test.

For one, I expect a backlash from Mourinho’s side after a patchy run of form, having recently suffered defeats away to Chelsea and Huddersfield in two of their last four league games.

Lukaku is without a goal in seven but has bagged a few on international duty with Belgium so will be looking to get back amongst the goals tomorrow – meaning our Lascelles-less back-line must stand up to the test.

We must improve our efficiency in-front of goal significantly if we want to get a result here. The fact we’ve scored just one in our last three and that combined with the fact Man Utd haven’t conceded a goal at Old Trafford all season is a little ominous!

I always have hope that we can pull off a shock result when we have Rafa Benitez in charge, but realistically, failure to get any points tomorrow won’t define our season.

An improved performance is essential however, allowing us to head into far more winnable games against Watford and West Brom in better stead in our next two. 

The Team

With Lascelles and Atsu ruled out and Merino also failing to recover in time, Rafa will be forced into making a few untimely changes here.

The capable Ciaran Clark will no doubt come in for Jamaal Lascelles. The skippers presence and leadership at the back could be a real miss – especially up against the monstrous Romelu Lukaku –  but it’s worth remembering that only a few months ago, Clark and Lejeune were our first choice centre-backs.

They looked assured alongside each other over pre-season and started the opening game of the season in the defeat to Spurs, so hopefully they can put in a big performance tomorrow – you get the feeling they’ll need to.

It wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see Rafa change the system in an attempt to combat against United’s various threats, but if he reverts back to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, Atsu’s absence will leave a hole to fill on the left wing.

£10m summer signing Jacob Murphy appears to be the obvious replacement, however he looked like a rabbit in the headlights in his brief outing against Bournemouth last time out, so I’m not convinced Rafa will throw him into the deep end here under the TV cameras at Old Trafford.

That leaves Rolando Aarons. He’s been nowhere to be seen on the senior front this season aside from an impressive cup outing against Forest, but he’d by my preferred option if we were looking for a like-for-like Atsu replacement. He comes across a little more fearless and might benefit from being handed a his chance in the first-team tomorrow?

One thing’s for certain, I really don’t see Rafa sticking with 4-4-2. I actually though Gayle and Joselu linked up nicely at times in the first half against Bournemouth, but it left us short in midfield and allowed them to get in behind us and run at our defence more than Benitez would have liked to see.

They’ll have 60% plus possession no doubt, so I see Perez coming back in for this one in a bid to defend from the front.

That leaves Rafa with another big decision to make up top. I imagine he’ll pick Joselu given Gayle’s lack of physicality and presence to lead the line on his own, however I’m not expecting us to get many chances – and Joselu tends to need a few to score.

Gayle looked sharper than he has done last time out, so I’d be inclined to give him another run in the team, although I’m not sure there’s a place for him in there should Rafa stick to one up top?

There’ll be calls for Mitrovic no doubt, but I think it’s time we accepted he’s just not in Rafa’s plans. I’d be pleasantly surprised if he was a shock inclusion in the side tomorrow, I just don’t see it unfortunately.

The Opposition

The talent in Man United’s side speaks for itself.

Lukaku will be on the look out for a goal after going seven games without one at club level, whilst the direct and lightning quick threats of Martial and Rashford out wide will be extremely hard to contain.

Yedlin may be quick, but he’ll have to be at his best to contain whichever on of those starts out on the left.

Matic is a big presence in the middle, being extremely capable midfielder with and without the ball, whilst goalkeeper David De Gea is arguably the worlds best right now.

Mourinho has suggested that Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be back in the United squad for tomorrow’s game.

I expect neither to start, but it’ll give them a boost to have them back around the place – especially when you look at how good they’ve been when Pogba’s featured this season:

For an inside look into tomorrow’s opposition, see this week’s edition of ‘The Opposition Opinion’ where we’ve gained the thoughts of some Man Utd fans we’ve been speaking to this week.



Newcastle – 11th (14 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 1 / Drawn: 2 / Lost: 2

Man Urd – 2nd –(23 pts) – Last 5 in the league /  Won: 2  / Drawn: 1 / Lost: 2

Team News

Jamaal Lascelles (ankle) and Christian Atsu (thigh) have been ruled out of the game by Rafa today, whilst Mikel Merino remains OUT with a back injury.

On the plus side, Paul Dummett is back in training, but tomorrow’s game will come too soon for him once again.

Jose Mourinho has confirmed that long-term absentees Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo are in contention to return on Saturday – suggesting they will feature tomorrow night.

On the plus side, first-team centre-back Phil Jones is set to miss out with a thigh problem however.


Predicted Line-ups

Newcastle United XI – (4-2-3-1) – Elliot – Yedlin, Lejeune, Clark, Manquillo – Hayden, Shelvey – Ritchie, Perez , Aarons – Joselu

Manchester Utd XI – (4-2-3-1) – De Gea – Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Young – Matic, Herrera – Mata, Mkhitaryan, Rashford – Lukaku.



As you can see, we’ve not beaten Man Utd in our last five outings, although I’m sure we’d all take a 0-0 draw like we achieved in our last visit to Old Trafford in 2015.


Match Prediction

Make no mistake, this will be our toughest test of the season when all things are considered.

We’re under pressure to respond after back-to-back defeats, but are playing a side 2nd in the league, with players returning from injury and a mean defence that hasn’t conceded at home all season.

I think we’ll be compact and frustrate them at times, but I don’t see us having enough to get a result here.

Providing we don’t concede early, I don’t see this one being a drubbing, but I do think we won’t have enough to stop them or trouble them at the other end.

Hopefully I’m proved wrong! A big performance and result would be a huge bonus after a sobering few weeks.

Prediction: Man Utd 2-0 Newcastle 

Howay the lads!

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About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

63 thoughts on “Man Utd vs Newcastle: Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

  1. I expect the same lineup as Olly except I think it will be Murphy for Aarons. It also wouldn’t be a shock to me if it was Diame in a 3 man midfield for his perceived physicality. Then we wouldn’t play a left winger at all.

    The margins have been so fine in the last 3 games so I don’t think you can say we have had a really bad run of form and should have had Bournemouth sewn up by half time.


  2. You have to think that any half decent manager could keep the Mackems up. They have only played a third of their season and are not cast adrift. I don’t take much notice of their players but most were bought for the PL and they can’t all be crap. Moyes sucked the life out if their confidence and Grayson seemed a bit of a damp squib as well.


  3. Just watched a show on Ligue Un where they gave the stat of the player who had been involved in the most goals in 2107 – either scoring or assisting? Florian Thauvin with 27. Do we give up on players too quickly?


  4. Not looking foward to this one today if I’m honest. Just cannot see where our goals could come from. I just hope it’s not a hammering I’ve a feeling it will be 2-0 to them but hoping to take a point in a 0-0 draw. ?


  5. I think Aarons is close to getting a look. Rafa said he is training well and whenever he says that about a player they usually become part of his plans. I don’t think he just means putting in the effort but also listening to the coaches and understanding the system and his complete role were he to play.

    Maybe the bench today. Been thinking about it and I think Rafa will go straight experience. Murphy or Aarons on the bench and any of Perez, Diame and Gayle to start before those 2.


  6. All of the press are having a collective w@nk about Spurs. I predict they will not win the league because Man City will for at least 2 seasons and meanwhile Chelsea and Man U will retool. It will be like Keegan’s NUFC when we came up against the Dark Lord from Manchester.

    Spurs will end up being broken up within 2 years. Troy used to make predictions on here but the difference is that some of mine come true 🙂

    I am looking forward to the London Derby because like most others I am a bit fearful of our game.


  7. London derby like a game of pinball. Sissoko looks reborn. There must be an international tournament on the horizon. A couple of his usual mis-touches but on the whole very good.


  8. Kimtoon: don’t you get the feeling that Spurs will not win anything though. Maybe a Cup but the rest of the top 6 are just as likely to do that.


  9. I really like this Spurs team and they will provide about 1/2 the England team but their fans got ahead of themselves. They finished above Arsenal once in 22 years and now they are top dogs!!! They were also saying that Arsenal had d9ne nothing in Wenger’s last 10 years and they had the better Manager. He won 3 FA cups and Spurs and Poch have won the square root of f-all. Even last year Arsenal won the FA Cup which I still consider a major trophy.

    Of course it reminds me of the Mackems where they gloat and then karma comes back to bite them on the arse.


  10. Eric, Spurs suffer from a massive inferiority complex where Arsenal are concerned. They need to get passed that to progress. I agree, I don’t see them winning anything. Say what you will about Arsenal but they consistently get a CL spot, even when look decidedly mediocre . They aren’t what they were but still a threat for top 4 and always seem able to win cups.


  11. proof the top teams get the breaks, Vardy gets bought down by Kompany when through on goal yet only gets a yellow card !


  12. Watch the baggies have a new manager in place by the time we face them, Pullis on a sticky wicket , getting beat again.


  13. I’m here, Kim.

    Expecting some surprises in the team. I’d pick some players like Murphy or Aarons and tell them to treat it like a FA cup game.


  14. Murphy as well. My gut was he would go with Perez.

    Could be the end for Pulis. Down 4-0 at home. He also said something to the effect of shIt happens when asked about the sack earlier this week.


  15. All the other results seem to have gone our. Looks like we gave Bournemouth confidence but remember they scored with almost the last kick of the game.

    Palace 2 Everton 2.

    So, looking on the bright side, even if we lose, we will probably remain where we are.


  16. Gona get tanked. Not sure I fancy watching this one. It is Man Utd away in our first season back so anything better than a 3 goal loss is probably a good result.


  17. shamrock:
    Gona get tanked. Not sure I fancy watching this one. It is Man Utd away in our first season back so anything better than a 3 goal loss is probably a good result.

    Sham – we don’t tend to get tanked under Rafa. He has at least got us organised. I know we have injuries but I will be disappointed if we concede 3.


  18. 442 ! at Manure , gob smacked at that. Oh well, may as well go for it, do wish Mitro would start though. Murphy needs to show he has something about him today but difficult against Manure.


  19. What ridiculous goals to concede! Really, really poor.

    Anyway, I still think we can create chances. They’re giving us so much time when we attack. Are we good enough though? Doubt it.


  20. Hmmm … good start and great goal but gutted with those 2 at the end. Impressed with Yedlin and Murphy so far… we are still in this.


  21. I think Rafa was upset because we had both Legeune and Clark on the back post marking Smalling for their 2nd.


  22. Some people on Twitter slagging Murphy off. FFS! He’s a young kid in his first PL season. Personally I think he’s shown quite a bit of promise.


  23. Stuart79:
    Some people on Twitter slagging Murphy off. FFS! He’s a young kid in his first PL season. Personally I think he’s shown quite a bit of promise.

    Stu – I agree. He’s done alright and he & Yedlin looked a real threat in the first half. I was more disappointed with Ritchie personally.

    I think we started really well, but quality told in the end. Really disappointing to concede just before half time – sent us in down heartened and them with their tails up – and that definitely showed when they came back out.

    Disappointing, but I really hope beating that gets into their heads.


  24. Well it was to be expected I guess. No magician in the world can turn a sows ear into a silk purse… I was impressed with Yedlin and Murphy. I don’t see how anyone could criticise Murphy. Ritchie was missing … disappointing. Oh well. It’s done. Onwards we go… still 11th.


  25. Thought we were weak defensively on our left. Man U showed us that hopeful balls lumped forward are no substitute for accurate passing and movement. And yet there were times when we did move and pass well. Not too disappointed. Play like that against lesser teams and we should be ok.


  26. My feeling was we would lose by 2 or 3 but I hate to predict a loss. We created some chances at least. I think that was the 1st opposition goal scored at Old Trafford this year. If you had watched some of the other games they played there with Pogba in the team you would say we didn’t do too badly, despite the score.

    Giving Murphy stick is uncalled for. I didn’t think Rafa would even start him but he did as well as the rest of the team.

    Sometimes the other team just have good players. I mean if Man City were not so rampant, people would be raving about Man U at the moment.


  27. Yes Sharpy. But I’ll twll you what’s pissed me off. I think we’d have had about 20 points now if we had bought a striker who can score goals. It’s so obvious. So poor.


  28. Stuart79:
    Yes Sharpy. But I’ll twll you what’s pissed me off. I think we’d have had about 20 points now if we had bought a striker who can score goals. It’s so obvious. So poor.

    Stu – yeah, I had hoped we may have seen a bit of more out of Joselu with Gayle alongside him. But actually we have probably seen less – he done sod all today.

    A centre forward (or 2) and a left back is badly needed mate.


  29. expected result in the end but we created much more than them for a good part of the first half and actually had more shots on goal first half. Murphy played well, pleased for him and pleased to see Gayle look his old self too.


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