Manchester United will be hoping to inflict Newcastle United’s second defeat of the season tomorrow when they face Alan Pardew’s talented side at Old Trafford, in what will be another big match for both sides.
Prior to their defeat last weekend at Manchester City, Newcastle incredibly were unbeaten in the league after a starting the season in blistering form. It’s a credit to their manager Pardew that the only negative story to come out of St James’ Park this season was the club’s owner Mike Ashley’s decision to rename the ground to the Sports Direct Arena
Many fans and pundits across the country would not have imagined that Newcastle would have taken 25 points from their opening 12 league games, being only 4 points behind United going into this weekend’s game. Certainly after the departures of Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Jose Enrique, some may say that Newcastle have overachieved so far but that would not be paying enough compliments to their current crop of players who have certainly gelled well this season.
In midfield the duo of Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote have been outstanding. Jonas Guiterez has continued where he left off last season on the wing. Former United misfit Gabriel Obertan has impressed. Defensively the team look good and up front Leon Best, Demba Ba and Shola Ameobi have all looked proven-Premier League forwards and all look capable of producing more great moments from this point onwards.
Make no mistake about it, Newcastle may not have won in the league at Old Trafford for 39 years and it may be 17 games since they last tasted victory over United in the league, but they will go into this weekend’s game in high spirits looking to cause an upset and to continue to stake their claim for European football next season.
Sir Alex Ferguson and the side will be prepared for a tough game and would very well settle for another 1-0 win, a result they have achieved in each of the 3 league games since the Manchester derby defeat at Old Trafford. Teams that win the league have to be tight at the back so its vital United amass as many clean-sheets as possible and go back to being as resolute as possible.
So what can we expect from tomorrow’s game. What will be the key battles on the pitch?
Nemanja Vidic v Demba Ba
Around this time last season Senegalese hitman Ba was nearing the end of a 3 and a half year spell with Bundesliga side Hoffenhiem where it was rumoured he went on strike to seal a January transfer deadline move to West Ham United.
Despite suffering relegation whilst at Upton Park last season, Ba impressed scoring 7 times and has started this season well scoring 8 league goals for Newcastle. Vidic knows from marking him last season how strong the forward is and will have to work hard to keep him quiet.
Darren Fletcher v Yohan Cabaye
Despite impressing in his native France for Lille over the last couple of seasons, it was a surprise when talented midfielder Cabaye left the reigning French League and Cup Champions to sign for Newcastle in the summer.
He has started the season well and already is being rumoured about moving on to a big European side at the end of the season due to the manner of his hard-working performance. Darren Fletcher knows all about hard-work and with United’s midfield problems will relish a battle this weekend.
Javier Hernandez v Fabio Coloccini
Few football fans would argue right now that Javier Hernandez is not one of the most lethal strikers in the country. The little Mexican just has a knack of being at the right place at the right time in the area when it matters.
After Nolan’s departure in the summer, Coloccini was installed as Newcastle’s new club captain and the Argentine defender has taken the captaincy in his stride. Despite his outstanding form he will be tested by Hernandez who at times is impossible to mark.
In terms of a prediction for the game, as I stated earlier on in a on in a predictions article, I believe that United edge a hard-fought encounter 1-0. It won’t be an easy game and Newcastle do have the resources to scrap hard and get a point.
Pardew and his team due to the standards they have set this season will probably try and go for a win to keep their momentum going. That may prove to be their downfall and just like he did at Swansea it wouldn’t surprise me if Hernandez bagged the winner again.
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87