Newcastle United will be looking to beat Manchester United at home for the first time since 2019 when
the two sides clash on Sunday afternoon. The Red Devils travel to St James’ Park with a slight
psychological advantage, after they defeated their North East opponent 2-0 in the Carabao Cup final last
month. The Magpies are yet to score against Man United this season in two attempts, with the return
fixture at Old Trafford ending 0-0. However, Eddie Howe’s side are only three points behind this
weekend’s opposition in fifth place, and a win will see their UEFA Champions League dream become
more of a reality. A victory for Ten Hag’s men will ensure that Manchester United almost have one foot in
the UCL next season.
Newcastle are enjoying their best football in the Premier League since the 2011/12 campaign under
Eddie Howe this season, yet prior to their recent consecutive victories, their early season form stagnated
slightly. Back to back 1-1 draws against relegation battlers Bournemouth and West Ham in early
February highlighted Newcastle’s inability to be clinical in front of goal, which has haunted them
numerous times this season. But the introduction of Alexander Isak to the starting XI in recent weeks has
given the Magpies a new, less one dimensional attacking approach.
The Swedish striker starred for Newcastle in their last game before the international break, scoring a
brace, including a 93rd minute penalty which secured a 2-1 victory for his side against Nottingham Forest.
Three goals in his last two games means the twenty three year-old has only one Premier League goal
less than Callum Wilson this season in eight less starts. Newcastle dominated from the first whistle to the
last at the City Ground and they only conceded due to a misplaced Sven Botman back pass. Eddie
Howe will be pleased to see his team bounce back and secure all three points, and the victory will
certainly give the squad a confidence boost.
Newcastle will set out to dominate the possession stats against Man United, like they have done in
almost every home game this season. They have shown bravery in each game and the opponent doesn’t
seem to prevent players from committing themselves forward, but they will have to keep in mind how
strong Ten Hag’s side are on the counter attack.
Manchester United currently sit in third place and already have achieved silverware this season, thanks
to their 2-0 win over Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final. The Red Devils are also still competing in the
FA Cup and the Europa League, which highlights just how well Erik ten Hag has done so far, especially
considering how poor United were last campaign. There is no doubt that Man United are a better team
when playing at Old Trafford, only losing once, which was the opening matchday versus Brighton, and
conceding only eight in thirteen games. On the road however, they are slightly inconsistent and their last
away game in the league was a 7-0 defeat to arguably their biggest rivals Liverpool. Manchester United
have conceded the fourth most goals per game away from home, with an average of 2.08. However if
you break down the goals conceded statistic away from home, they have suffered 85% of their twenty
seven goals conceded from five of their thirteen away games, which is why they rank sixth in the away
clean sheet table even with the high number of average goals conceded.
Last time out, Man United hosted Fulham in a 3-1 FA Cup victory, albeit the result wasn’t a fair
representation of their performance. The home side struggled to gain any control for large spells in the tie
and it looked as though their unbeaten home streak was going to come to an end when Aleksandar
Mitrovic opened the scoring just after the break. Twenty five minutes after the opener, Fulham were down
to nine men, following a blatant goal preventing hand ball from Willian and Mitrovic’s overly aggressive
argument with the referee. Bruno Fernandes dispatched the penalty and by the time the Old Trafford
faithful had finished celebrating their equaliser, Marcel Sabitzer gave the home side the advantage.
Fernandes then wrapped the game up in injury time and secured a place in the FA Cup semi-finals for
United were without their most important player, Casemiro, and they will be without him for the next three
games due to his second red card of the season which he picked up against Southampton. The
Brazilian’s absence leaves a huge gap in the heart of the Manchester United midfield and they don’t
have a suitable replacement in the squad, which ultimately is a huge blow. Ten Hag does have one of the
most in form players in Europe at his disposal, yet Marcus Rashford did have to withdraw from
international duties due to an ankle/footy injury. The number ten has scored fourteen Premier League
goals this campaign, which is nine more than second top scorer Bruno Fernandes.