We may not be playing football that’s easy on the eye, but we’re battling on and getting results!
The win over Palace ensured we’d be in the top 10 for Christmas, taking us 10 clear of the bottom three and leaving us just two points shy of the European places.
It may be hard to believe given the nature of many displays this season, however the team are united and Bruce is getting the best out of them. Yes we’re riding our luck at times, but we’re defending well, working hard and taking our chances when they come.
Let’s hope that trend continues against a Man Utd side who have endured their worst EVER start to a Premier League season, picking up 25 points in their opening 17 games.
It’s tough to say who’ll start here, with Bruce highly likely to rotate given we face Everton 48 hours on from our trip to Old Trafford.
He’s already admitted that Andy Carroll will be unable to start both games, so I can see Gayle getting the nod up top. I might be wrong, but Bruce has insisted he’ll ‘get his chance’ one week – and I think this could be it.
Joelinton could get another chance out wide, but I have a feeling we’ll see either Gayle and Joelinton up top with Almiron playing in the no.10 role (using the system played vs Palace) or a front three of Atsu, Gayle and Almiron in a bid to catch Man Utd on the counter.
Elsewhere, a recently injured Jonjo Shelvey played the full 90 over the weekend and will be key to our hopes of beating Everton, so I can see Sean Longstaff coming in for him.
Willems will hopefully return all being well, but, if he doesn’t, I can see Manquillo switching sides and Yedlin returning now left-sided options Dummett and Ritchie look set to miss out.
Preferred NUFC XI – (5-2-2-1) – Dubravka – Manquillo, Schar, Fernandez, Dummett, Willems – Hayden, Shelvey – Almiron, Joelinton – Carroll.
Here’s ‘ones to watch’ in Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side:
Marcus Rashford – Man Utd have struggled in recent years, but the England international has stepped up this season, bagging 14 goals and 5 assists already this term in all comps. We may need another big display from Javier Manquillo if we’re to keep him quiet!
Paul Pogba – Whether you think he’s lazy, sloppy and overrated, he can be the best player on the park both technically and physically, and the enigma that is Paul Pogba looks set to return for Man Utd this week. OGS has described him as the ‘best all-round midfielder in the world’, but let’s hope he isn’t in the mood on his return.
Mason Greenwood – The 18-year-old talent has been described as the club’s best finisher and is being tipped to start on Thursday. He has 7 goals this season and could be a real one to watch down their right-hand side – especially if we’re without Willems, Dummett and Ritchie.
David De Gea – He’s capable of the spectacular and is one of the world’s best shot-stoppers on his day, but he dropped a clanger against Watford last weekend so will be under the microscope.
Predicted Man Utd XI – (4-3-3): De Gea – Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw – McTominay, Fred, Pereira – Greenwood, Martial, Rashford.
Jetro Willems could return, but Paul Dummett has been rated a “major doubt” after suffering a groin injury last weekend.
Bruce has admitted Andy Carroll won’t be able to play twice in 48 hours, meaning he could be rested for this one.
Saint-Maximin will miss out once again with a hamstring injury, Clark and Ki won’t make it and Lascelles and Ritchie remain out until the new year with respective knee and ankle injuries.
Paul Pogba came on from the bench in their 2-0 defeat at Watford last weekend, so looks set to be involved again here.
Eric Bailly and Maros Rojo will both miss out for the home side.
Man Utd lost 2-0 away at Watford over the weekend, so there’s no reason why we should fear them ahead of the trip to Old Trafford.
That said, there’s only so many times we can play poorly and get away with it. Our resilience, fight and ability to dig in and get results is admirable, but we’ll need to be MUCH better than we were in our last few to exploit a weak Man Utd side here.
A repeat of that performance at Spurs earlier in the season will be needed, so let’s hope we can be not only be defiant defensively and hard working in midfield, but also pack a punch in attack when we get our chance to hurt them.
I think we’ll make a few changes (prioritising the Everton game) and fall a little short – but it would not surprise me if Bruce and his battlers proved me wrong!
Prediction: Man Utd 2-1 Newcastle
Merry Christmas to you all – Howay the lads!