The outcome of this one won’t define our season, but the tables need to turn soon – and a surprise result here would give us a huge confidence boost ahead of a ‘generous’ run of fixtures between now and the new year.
It’s another game against one of the league’s top 6 (our FIFTH in eight games so far), however things are far from rosy within the Man Utd camp at the moment.
They’ve not won at home since the opening game of the season, having lost 0-3 to Spurs, being put out the cup to Derby and drawing to Wolves and Valencia in their last four games at Old Trafford (also losing 3-1 at West Ham in their last league game).
Mourinho’s job is under serious pressure. If they fail to get an early goal, the atmosphere could play right into our hands. We MUST take advantage of that.
I back us defensively (especially if Fernandez and Dummett are back), but our inability to put pressure on opposition defences has been a real worry.
We need to give them something to think about and it may be time we saw a slightly different approach in attack if we’re going to do that – with us scoring just one goal in three away games so far this season.
Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Dubravka – Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett – Diame, Shelvey – Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy – Joselu.
Aside from the obvious (Pogba, Lukaku etc.). here’s a few ‘ones to watch’ in the Man Utd side:
Marouane Fellaini: He’s not easy on the eye, but he’ll be a big threat from set pieces and will disrupt things in the middle of the pitch. An awkward player to play against and one of the biggest threats in the Premier League when it comes to putting crosses into the box.
Eric Bailly: A superb athlete and probably MUFC’s best defender. Smalling and Lindelof never convince me so if Bailly struggles, they may struggle.
Rashford and Martial: They may not both start, but both are very direct, possess frightening pace and have an eye for goal as they cut in from wide areas.
Predicted Man Utd XI – (4-3-3) – De Gea – Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Shaw – Matic, Fellaini, Pogba – Rashford, Lukaku, Martial.
After missing Leicester last weekend, Fernandez and Dummett looks set to return providing they pass fitness tests – however Rondon has been ruled out once again with a thigh injury.
Ashley Young is back in contention to return but Marcos Rojo, Jesse Lingard and Ander Herrera are all ruled out
It may all depend what Manchester Utd turn up here. If Mourinho manages to get a reaction out of them then I worry, but there’s been no sign of that recently – so let’s hope that continues.
Either way, we’re going to have to be so much better if we want to get anything out of this. It’s essential that we stay switched on at the back and frustrate them in attack (something that will only worsen what could be a toxic Old Trafford atmosphere), however we’ll have to be far more decisive and penetrative going forward if we’re to trouble them at the back.
My heart hopes for a sneaky 1-1 draw, but I worry we won’t score – and I can’t see us keeping them out for 90 minutes.
They may be struggling, but they still have several world class players who we’ll struggle to deal with.
Prediction: Man Utd 1-0 Newcastle
Howay the lads!