Manchester United v Newcastle
Venue: Old Trafford
Channel: BT Sport
After 2 games, Manchester United sit in joint 3rd, behind Manchester City and Leicester, and Newcastle sit in 15th, with only a goal separating them from current champions Chelsea.
So far both teams have scored two goals, Manchester United’s translating into 6 points and Newcastle’s yielding but 1 point.
The New Newcastle
Newcastle and Alan Pardew parted ways in December last year, after 4 years and 155 matches. This left Newcastle win John Carver in charge for 20 games. Carver’s only real managerial experience was 40 games as manager of Toronto FC in 2008/09. He won 12 games with the Canadian side.
At Newcastle he won 3 games, narrowly being able to avoid the relegation zone on the last day of the season. In this crucial game, cancer survivor Jonás Gutiérrez assisted and scored a goal against West Ham to win 2-0. Carver then went on to let Jonás Gutiérrez know that he would be released by the club, via a phone call to Ryan Taylor.
Now Steve McLaren, or as many England fans will know him, the “Wally with a Brolly”, is in charge at Tyne-Side and has made a number of key signings that have improved the squad. The acquisitions of Georginio Wijnaldum and Chancel Mbemba have filled very important slots in the Newcastle starting eleven.
Keeping hold of sharpshooter Papiss Demba Cissé has also been vital to Newcastle’s hopes for success this season, despite his numbers decreasing since the departure of big Demba Ba.
Young Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrović should eventually prove to be a good buy as he has a lot of talent however, as seen in his two sub appearances, he is not a very good tackler and is a bit of a hot head. He’s already been booked twice, after less than half an hour of total game time.
However, be it only 2 games into the season, Newcastle haven’t appeared to have found their feet yet and have only claimed one point so far. If you include their pre-season, the Toon has only won 2 of their 7 away games. 6 of these 7 teams were far inferior to Newcastle’s team, with Swansea being the exception.
The History between the United’s
In the last 18 match ups at Old Trafford between these two sides, the Red Devils have taken the full 3 points in 13 of them, and 4 have resulted as draws. The only time that Newcastle have won, in the red half of Manchester, since 1998, was a 1-0 win over Moyes’ United in 2013.
Over these 18 games, Manchester United have scored a combined 43 goals to Newcastle’s 14. In recent history, the Toon have been dominated at Old Trafford by just over 3 goals to 1.
The Challenge for the Red Devils
The challenge won’t necessarily be the opposition. The biggest challenge will be trying to get the front line working and scoring.
Manchester United have scored 2 goals in 2 games, only one of which was scored by a United player, (even though Rooney most probably would have scored against Spurs anyway).
With Rooney out of position, no decent real striker in the team, Depay still finding his feet and Mata appearing almost absent in the fixtures so far, the forwards have not been successful in the Premier League thus far.
Against Club Brugge in midweek, despite commentator Michael Owen saying it was a hard fought game with both sides being quite even, the Red Devils dominated the Belgians. United only allowed 1 attempt against them, which was a free kick that took a huge deflection from Carrick and went past Romero.
United’s defence looked as solid as it has done so far this season and, being against far inferior opposition, Memphis Depay was allowed to run riot, and he did, scoring 2 goals against the Belgium Champions.
Rooney showed more signs of life than he has done recently but performed best in the little time that he shared the field with Javier Hernández. Wayne was able to leave his post at the top of the field, collect the ball and play it around the field.
Van Gaal’s being very stubborn with Rooney’s positioning, hopefully he realises that it won’t work before the transfer window’s closed so United make a move for a big striker on the last day, and Jim White can go ape over it on Deadline Day.
It looks like another game with no goals conceded for Smalling and Co. in this match but it will be a harder fought clean sheet than that of the Aston Villa game.
It will be shown how much confidence Memphis Depay gained form his brace in midweek, but it’ll be much harder for him to pull off such silky skills against the Newcastle defence.
Despite him scoring, Marouane “Mustard” Fellaini (nickname forged from another piece of Michael Owen commentary magic) will not be starting for United as he is serving the last game of his suspension.
If the trend continues, Manchester United will win 1-0 but I think they could push to the dizzying heights of 2-0 or even 3-0 in this game. With Memphis being back in his natural left wing position he looks the most likely to score.
In the last match up at Old Trafford, Rooney scored twice from an attacking midfield position but, if he’s played as a lone striker again there’s little chance that he’ll score or even play very well.