Manchester United will be looking to snap their winless streak as they host another struggling side in the form of Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Manchester United have seen their season turned upside down. A nervy but bright start to the season is a thing of the past now, with the defeat at West Ham United and the 0-0 stalemate against Valencia pushing United’s winless streak to four games.
Jose Mourinho is on the edge, with many coining that the Portuguese is likely to be on his way out if Manchester United cannot muster up all three points against Newcastle United.
Newcastle United are struggling themselves. Rafa Benitez has been handed the short straw. There were limitations over his ability to spend in the summer which was followed by a series of games against top teams. The confidence has been sucked away from the squad it seems, amidst all the off-field issues involving club owner Mike Ashley.
Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez are two old customers who find themselves in a rather desperate position. Newcastle United managed a win in their last encounter against Manchester United. But, their last match at Old Trafford yielded a 4-1 defeat, something Mourinho would be hoping is the case again on Saturday.
We take a closer look at the two teams.
Team News & Tactics
Jose Mourinho would be happy there are no fresh injury concerns, with Marcos Rojo, Jesse Lingard and Ander Herrera already serving their spell on the sidelines. David De Gea should start in goal. But, the back four could see changes.
Ashley Young was also on the sidelines with a minor issue. But, the manager confirmed that Young could come back into the squad, citing that he is available for selection. Antonio Valencia was dreadful against Valencia while Young showed he cannot be a reliable man on the right after his display against West Ham United.
Diogo Dalot could be handed a start as Jose Mourinho looks to find something to motivate the squad on to better results. In midfield, Paul Pogba is a certain starter after having put in a bright display against Valencia during the midweek. Fred should also come into the lineup, with Nemanja Matic likely to make up the numbers in midfield.
Romelu Lukaku has not exactly been impressive in front of goal and could lose his place to Marcus Rashford. Alexis Sanchez has been rumoured to be singled out for criticism by Jose Mourinho, perhaps, in hope of a reaction on the pitch. The Chilean will likely be handed a start on the left, with Juan Mata likely to start on the right.
Although, we could see a surprise selection on the right in the form of Andreas Pereira, who has played on the wing earlier in his career and can be a useful customer out wide.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): De Gea; Dalot, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Fred, Matic, Pogba; Mata, Rashford, Alexis
Florian Lejuene is the only long-term absentee on the books for Newcastle. Paul Dummett and Federico Fernandez are both doubts. But, the former is likely to be fit in time to start on the left. Jamaal Lascelles should be partnered by Ciaran Clark at the heart of the defence, with DeAndre Yedlin on the right.
Rafa Benitez has preferred the 4-4-1-1 formation, with Ayoze Perez acting as the Trequartista. The same is expected against Manchester United. However, the manager will hope to have Salomon Rondon fit in time to start. In case Rondon is unable to fit in time, the striker will be on the bench, with Joselu taking his place in the starting eleven.
Matt Ritchie and Kenedy will be entrusted with providing the width going forward. But, the key players will be the pairing of Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame in central midfield. Shelvey will be the playmaker while Diame does the dirty work in the middle of the park.
Rafa Benitez has already shown that he is not afraid to play ‘contain’ football against top teams, having surrendered even upto 81% of the possession early on in the season. The manager though, will likely instruct his players to be more attacking against a Manchester United side that have looked shaky recently.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett; Ritchie, Diame, Shelvey, Kenedy; Perez; Joselu
1. Manchester United Asian Handicap -1.0 @ 1.700
2. Manchester United Clean Sheet – YES @ 1.83
3. Marcus Rashford to score anytime @ 2.75
1. Manchester United to win Both Halves @ 3.50
1. Newcastle United have failed to score at Old Trafford in only one of their last five league visits.
2. Manchester United have had their poorest start to a Premier League season, with just 10 points from their first 7 games.
3. Manchester United are undefeated in 35 of their last 38 home matches in the Premier League.
4. Jose Mourinho has won all seven of his home games against Newcastle in all competitions, with 18 goals scored and only one conceded.
5. Romelu Lukaku has had a hand in 10 goals in 10 league appearances against Newcastle (6 goals, 4 assists).
Player to Watch
Assuming Lindelof starts on Saturday, all eyes will be on him. The player was brought off prematurely against West Ham United in a defence that included Scott McTominay. The Swede has disappointed with his erratic and inconsistent displays at the back for United, something that he cannot afford if he is to succeed and become a regular starter at a club of the same stature as Manchester United.
Newcastle United will be more dogged in their approach. But, if Rondon starts, Lindelof will have a couple of tests to pass – the pace of Ayoze Perez and the robust presence of Salomon Rondon.
Manchester United 2-0 Newcastle United
Rafa Benitez will be hoping to be the one that inflicts the last wound to Jose Mourinho and hands him another defeat, perhaps his last as a Manchester United manager. But, even against Valencia in what was a very dull performance, there were signs of life from Paul Pogba and others, which might be something Mourinho will hope to work on for Saturday.
Jose Mourinho’s third season syndrome might be the news everywhere. But, the manager knows he needs to make it work against Newcastle to hold on to his job or just for the sake of relieving some of the pressure that has been put on him recently. We will likely see a Manchester United win or a Jose Mourinho sacking. We believe it will be the former on Saturday.