The reds travel north this Saturday to face Newcastle United in the Barclays Premier League. United go into the game following a spirited home draw in the week to Bayern Munich, with the second leg against the German giants looming on Wednesday. With the UEFA Champions League now undoubtedly United’s priority, David Moyes may well rest a few players ahead of the crunch trip to Germany.
Robin Van Persie will of course miss out on Saturday due to his long term knee injury but aside from this United are in pretty good health with Chris Smalling and Ryan Giggs being the only minor doubts head of the class at St James’s Park. Juan Mata should return to the squad after being cup tied for Tuesday’s game and Patrice Evra should also return after also missing the game against Bayern Munich due to suspension. With this all taken into account, here is the side the manager may pick for Saturday’s 3pm kick off:
The Spaniard David De Gea is again almost guaranteed to start. His form has been unquestionable lately and the manager will be unlikely to want to risk upsetting his rhythm ahead of Wednesday night’s huge game. United’s first choice keeper surprisingly had little to do against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic both starting on Tuesday night, the pair are both likely to be taken out the side and wrapped in cotton wool ahead of the return leg. Phil Jones should return to his favoured position at centre back after filling in at right back against the German’s and I would expect Jonny Evans to return to the side to partner him. Rafael should have recovered from injury so he is the main contender to start at right back; and I also expect Patrice Evra to return at left back to prove his worth ahead of Wednesday’s game where Buttner is favourite to start for me.
Again, David Moyes is more than likely to have one mind on Wednesday when choosing his midfield. Ashley Young will more than likely get the nod in the wide right position and I expect Adnan Januzaj to get a rare start as of late by coming into the wide left position. As for central midfield, it wouldn’t be any surprise to see both Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley get starts after neither got any game time on Tuesday night. The Spaniard Juan Mata will then almost certainly come straight back into the side after being cup tied in Europe and I would predict he will be deployed in his favoured number ten role.
Although it is pivotal that Wayne Rooney is kept in tip top condition for Wednesday, history shows that the striker plays best when in a run of games and resting him isn’t necessarily the best option. As a result of this, I expect United’s top earner to start up top again with Juan Mata tucked in behind him.
Predicted Starting XI
Rafael, Jones, Evans, Evra;
Young, Mata, Januzaj;