By Mark Young
Manchester United will look to bounce back from the disappointing draw against Benfica on Tuesday with a win over an impressive Newcastle United side.
Both teams currently have only one loss to their names both to the hands of Manchester City. Alan Pardew’s Magpies visited the Etihad stadium last week and made City grind out a 3-1 victory. More of the same is expected this Saturday, as they will look to frustrate the champions. Pardew has said that his side have to be ruthless with any chances that come their way.
They definitely have the players to finish these chances off and create them in Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye. They have been two of the many highlights for Newcastle in their early season form. Newcastle have a strong team ethic and will hope that this carries them through a tough period in the season. Travelling to both Manchester clubs and hosting Chelsea within a week will really test their metal.
Man United will look to continue some recent good form since the thrashing at the hands of City a few weeks ago. Solid, if not spectacular wins came to an abrupt end when Benfica grabbed a deserved point at the Theatre of Dreams. Phil Jones netted against his own team on Tuesday night and that is the only blip in an already impressive debut season for the young England man. He should keep his place this weekend but it is expected to be alongside Nemanja Vidic or at right back. Tom Cleverley is now out until Christmas so it would not be a surprise to see Michael Carrick keep his place in the centre of the park after some recent impressive displays.
Wayne Rooney missed the Champions League game with Benfica with Sir Alex Ferguson claiming he has a ‘couple of knocks.’ He may well be doubtful for this game with the Magpies but Rooney will be itching to play. He always seems to play well against Newcastle and after a few baron weeks in front of goal he will be up for playing and scoring past them. He should partner Hernandez up front after his winning goal at Swansea last week. Dimitar Berbatov started in midweek and scored but he will take a place on the bench this weekend unless Rooney doesn’t make it.
Rooney and Hernandez will have to get past a very formidable centre back pairing in the revitalised Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor. With Tim Krul behind them in goal they have one of the best defensive records in the league. That is testament to the job that Pardew has done in shoring up a defence. Newcastle used to be a centre backs graveyard but they have been solid under Pardew and the club appears to be going in the right direction.
Here, at Stretford End Arising we spoke to St1pe from nufc-forum.com and asked his thoughts on the upcoming game and more:
I’m not particularly confident for Saturday’s game, but I don’t recall a time when I’ve ever looked forward to a trip to Old Trafford, I think the best we’ve ever done there in recent times is a 0-0 draw. On the positive side we come into this weekend’s game in very good form and but for some pretty poor individual errors versus City we were in the game for large portions of the match while missing some pretty glaring goal scoring chances. I’d like to think we will make it hard for United and maybe even pinch a draw, but my head says we could end up on the wrong end of a big scoreline. Newcastle will almost certainly be adopting a 4-4-2 formation with either Leon Best acting as the target man and Ba making late runs into the box from deep which has been so successful this season. If Best isn’t fit I imagine we’ll adopt the very same line up as last week with Ben Arfa playing off Ba.
As for the weaknesses I don’t think a team like Manchester United has any gaping problems that we would be looking to play to but if there is a chance we could get anything from the game my money would be us testing Rio Ferdinand who has sadly looked a shadow of his former self this season. I still think he’s been better than Terry though and it bemused me how he has managed to keep his place in the England squad when Ferdinand hasn’t.
I can’t really talk positively enough about how our season has begun. It’s definitely the best team atmosphere I can remember since the start of the Sir Bobby Robson era. Technically we had better squads since with higher profile players, but this is by far the best I’ve seen us work as a unit for a very very long time. If Newcastle can finish anywhere in the top 10 I will be happy – it will be an improvement. I’d like think we will have a run at the Europa League spots, but I think over the course of the season there are some bigger and better squads that are more likely to go the distance. Like most Newcastle United fans at the minute I’m just taking in one game at a time though and enjoying it while it lasts. We’ve had a rough spell for a few years on and off the pitch so it’s just nice to be winning games and making positive headlines.
Stadium Name Change and Mike Ashley
The less I say about this the better but it’s actually had a mixed reception up here. I hate it. I don’t see how someone can rename an old ground just for commercial benefit. I understand when a new stadium is built it makes sense to bring in extra revenue, but we are not a big enough global brand in my opinion to attract anyone of significance that would be worth losing such a historical name for us. In my opinion renaming the stadium is blatantly just another way for Ashley to gain more for his Sports Direct empire. Newcastle City Council are also digging their heels in by not changing the name of the metro station next to the ground or changing any of the road signs. It will always be called St James’ Park though so he is wasting his time…. I know I said I wasn’t going to say much.
When Chris Hughton was sacked I think just about everyone was in uproar, he was loved up here and got treat terribly from our owners. When Hughton was sacked the word from the hierarchy was they were sacking him to appoint a more experienced manager… and then they appointed Pardew. You can imagine how people reacted.
That said, I am one of those fans that is happily eating humble pie at the minute because I thought he was all talk from what I’d seen of him in the past. He has transformed our side from what was essentially hard working, hard tackling, long ball to Carroll merchants to a well drilled and passing unit. I’m not saying we don’t mix up every now and again but we’re starting to play incredibly organised and pressing football. I wouldn’t go as far to say we are attempting to mimic a Manchester United style of play but we are taking up a not entirely dissimilar Manchester United ethos.
Standout has to be Cabaye. The effect he has on the team is monumental in the way we have altered out game, it’s nice to see us attempting to play passing football again. Ba has also been a goal machine after a slowish opening couple of games but I none of the new lads have actually been poor. We’re still waiting to see Santon play from Inter but with our defence being so solid he hasn’t had a look in.
I love Tiote, I think he’s a really good player, but when a club outside the big four clubs gets someone who starts to put some good performances in they automatically get linked with elite. I’m not entirely sure Cheick would look as amazing in your team as he does in ours. He can get a little sloppy on the ball and dally on it especially around our own 18 yard box and he’s been caught out a few times he also seems to collect yellow cards like they are trophies. I’m not sure how that side of his game would cope on the European stage. On the positive side and I say this without bias (I think) I don’t think there is anyone else in the Premier League that wins the ball back as well as him and In my opinion he is probably the best defensive midfielder In England. However, the money it would take to break him from his 6 year contract would probably be well over the odds than should be paid for someone in that position. He has definitely been one of our biggest bargains in my lifetime that’s for sure.
In his first season in England Colo was shocking but since our season in the Championship he has been consistently one of our highest performers, so I see no reason why he can’t continue his form. The biggest worry with Colo is in the summer he will enter the final year of his contract and although he have opened contract negotiations there have been a few Spanish clubs sniffing about. Especially with an owner like ours you never know if he will just try and cash in during the January window and replace him with a younger cheaper model.
Three Key Battles
Javier Hernandez Vs. Steven Taylor
Chicharito looked at his best last week scoring the winner against Swansea. Playing against Newcastle will be more of a physical battle this weekend though and may find it tough to get past Taylor. The Little Pea likes to play off the shoulder of defence and if there is one way he will beat Taylor it will be with his pace and movement.
Nemanja Vidic Vs. Demba Ba
There is no doubt that United missed their captain in mid week but his return to the back line will give the rest of the team a much needed confidence boost. Someone who doesn’t need one of this is Demba Ba who has been in superb form since his move from West Ham. He is quick and has a great finish on him so Vidic will have to be on top of his game.
Michael Carrick Vs. Yohan Cabaye
Carrick has been restored to the first eleven in the last two games and he looks in the no mood to give it up. He will be up against another in form midfielder in Yohan Cabaye on Saturday. He was one of the main parts of the Lille side that stormed to the Ligue 1 title last season and is proving to be a bargain at less than four million pounds. The Frenchman may well become a leading star in the Premier League and Old Trafford may well be his stage. Carrick will have to be on his toes.
These games are usually classics and this one looks like it will not disappoint. With very creative line-ups including Nani, Ashley Young, Cabaye and Jonas Guitierrez there may well be a few goals to be talking about. Manchester United need a win but it will not be an easy task against a side that have real European ambitions.
Register with the Stretford End Arising forum.
Follow Mark Young on Twitter.