Competition: Premier League – Newcastle United vs Manchester United
Venue: St James’ Park – Wednesday, March 4th – 19:45 GMT (14:45 ET)
Match Odds: Newcastle United: 3/1 – Draw: 5/2 – Manchester United: 19/20
The Toon Army are looking likely to finish the campaign in mid-table, unless they can dramatically step up their efforts for European football, whilst Manchester United are currently sitting fourth in what could be the tightest race for the top four in Premier League history.
Before the weekend Newcastle had been without a win in four games, but that win against Aston Villa will give them confidence. Manchester United are in good form and have lost just one in their last six league games.
Louis Van Gaal has stuck to his guns for much of the season and United have been quietly going about their business but they will be in for a tight game at St James’ Park.
Despite Newcastle’s relatively poor season they have enjoyed victories over some of the better sides in the league, something Van Gaal will have warned his players to be aware of.
John Carver recorded his first home victory at the weekend and he needs his side to push on to ensure they have a strong end to the campaign in order to rebuild for next season. Their home form hasn’t been too bad and is the main reason why they’re not finding themselves lower in the table and possibly in the relegation scrap.
The Magpies had put together a run of four consecutive home wins earlier in the season and they will want a positive result against Manchester United tomorrow night, as their next two at home don’t get any easier as Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur travel to Newcastle.
Louis Van Gaal’s side on the road have been a shadow of former Manchester United teams. The fear factor has possibly been eradicated but they have been picking up points, which is the main aim for their run in.
They have the worst away record of all the sides in the top seven and need to start picking up more points away from Old Trafford to ensure they qualify for the Champions League next season.
Having spent big last summer, a lot was expected of this United team, but they have taken a long time to gel. You would be mistaken for thinking they have been poor defensively, having only conceded 26 goals, making them the third best defensive unit in the league.
Draws away from home have been a bit of a problem for United as they have racked up seven so far but will want all three points on Wednesday night.
Newcastle United: Paul Dummett (knee), Remy Cabella (knee), Cheick Tiote (knee), Rob Elliot (hip), Rolando Aarons (thigh), Siem De Jong (lung) and Steven Taylor (calf) all remain on the sidelines and are unlikely to feature. Yoann Gouffran could return to the starting eleven having been replaced by Gabriel Obertan in the weekend’s victory over Aston Villa.
Manchester United: Robin Van Persie (ankle) looks to be the only definite absentee as Louis Van Gaal has his squad in good shape. Phil Jones (illness) and Luke Shaw (hamstring) missed the win against Sunderland but should return to the squad here. United are likely to remain unchanged after their weekend win and Wayne Rooney will be hoping to maintain his preferred forward position having bagged two in that win on Saturday.
Newcastle United’s last five in the Premier League: W/D/D/L/W
Manchester United’s last five in the Premier League: W/D/W/L/W
Key Stat: Goals – These sides have provided entertainment in their last two meetings, scoring eight between them, seven of which were scored by Manchester United.
Key Player: Wayne Rooney – The England captain has endured a relatively difficult season so far and showed in the weekend’s 2-0 win against Sunderland just why people are calling for him to be playing further up the field with two goals.
Newcastle United 1-2 Manchester United – Louis Van Gaal’s side cannot afford to finish outside the top four this season and should be too strong for Newcastle on Wednesday.