After disappointment in the Carabao Cup final, Newcastle United will be looking for revenge on Sunday when they host Manchester United at St James Park.
Newcastle currently sit fifth in the Premier League table, two points behind Tottenham Hotspur who have played two extra games.
Whereas, the red devils sit third, 11 points behind rivals Manchester City who have also played an extra game.
Since Newcastle manager Eddie Howe’s arrival, the Magpies have significantly improved.
This season, Howe has worked his magic pushing Newcastle into a Champions League football fight.
From the 31st August when Newcastle narrowly lost to an excruciating 98th minute Fabio Carvalho winner, the Geordies went unbeaten until losing in the FA Cup against Sheffield Wednesday on the seventh of January. In this time, Newcastle picked up brilliant form consistently winning games on the bounce.
However, after progressing against Southampton in the League Cup semi finals, Newcastle’s form had declined.
Howe’s men failed to win in their next five games, losing three including the League Cup final to United.
However, in Newcastle’s previous two games, the Magpies have beaten Wolves and Nottingham Forest putting them back into form.
Manchester United’s form
After humiliating losses to Brentford and Brighton in new manager Erik ten Hag’s first Premier League games, the Dutch coach has significantly turned the club around.
Upon his arrival, United hadn’t won a trophy in over five years, struggling to consistently make Champions League football.
However, since the former Ajax coach has joined United, Ten Hag’s brought a different level to the club.
His first few months brought United into a top four challenge, remaining competitive in the cups.
After the World Cup, United came back even stronger.
The red devils won seven games in a row before drawing to Crystal Palace, and narrowly losing to leaders Arsenal at the Emirates.
Since then, United have progressed in the FA Cup, knocked Barcelona out of the Europa League over two legs, and won the League Cup final against Newcastle.
However, on the 5th March, Liverpool hammered United 7-0 in a historic loss. Despite the success this season, real question marks were posed over how such a defeat could happen. Significant blame fell to the players but also the manager.
In the four subsequent games, United beat Real Betis in both legs to progress to the Europa League quarter finals, drew to Southampton and chaotically beat Fulham 3-1 in the FA Cup.
Thus, despite the humiliation at Anfield, United have remained consistently on good form.
Therefore, heading into Sunday, Ten Hag’s men will be confident that they have enough to take the three points away.
Building towards our #PL return 📈#MUFC || #NEWMUN pic.twitter.com/9JMklEylef
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 31, 2023
- Nick Pope
- Kieran Trippier
- Fabian Schar
- Sven Botman
- Dan Burn
- Sean Longstaff
- Bruno Guimaraes
- Joe Willock
- Allan Saint-Maxamin
- Alexsander Isak
- Jacob Murphy
- David de Gea
- Aaron Wan Bissaka
- Lisandro Martinez
- Raphael Varane
- Luke Shaw
- Scott McTominay
- Bruno Fernandes
- Marcus Rashford
- Wout Weghorst
Where the game will be won and lost
With Newcastle out for revenge, the St James Park atmosphere could be a big influence in how the game goes.
At times in the final, the black and white of the crowd were pivotal in keeping the pressure and momentum in Newcastle’s favour.
Therefore, with a packed stadium, dominated by the Magpie supporters, this could be even more influential.
Furthermore, as a result of Casemiro’s suspension and a knock to Marcel Sabitzer, Ten Hag could be forced to use a Fred and McTominay central midfield pairing again.
This could be an area Newcastle look to exploit, as United’s midfield duo have apparent weaknesses, which with the talent and quality of players like Guimaraes, could cause them major problems.
Without Casemiro, United struggle to transition the ball from defence to attack.
Therefore, Newcastle may look to press high to put Fred and McTominay under pressure, not giving them the comfort of time on the ball.
As a result, this could force them to consistently pass backwards as they lack the needed quality to play under pressure at times.
However, after McTominay’s stellar displays for Scotland in the international break scoring two braces, Newcastle may be wary of the Scotsman’s offensive prowess.
🔴 Scott McTominay enjoyed his international break ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️@ManUtd || #UEL pic.twitter.com/7u7L6FQlUJ
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) March 30, 2023
Both sides wingers will be majorly significant in the outcome of this game.
With Saint-Maxamin an incredible threat to United’s backline, Ten Hag will likely opt to use Wan Bissaka as his right full back to neutralise this. The Frenchman’s tricks and silky ball control makes him incredibly hard to defend. However, Wan Bissaka’s one on one defensive abilities are some of the best in Europe. Thus, this will be a key battle.
Marcus Rashford has been one of the best players in the world since his return after the World Cup.
The English winger has scored 27 goals this season, assisting nine in just 44 games.
Therefore, fellow international, Trippier will have a big responsibility keeping United’s number 10 quiet.
In recent months, large majorities of United’s goals have come through the winger, and thus the success of Newcastle in this game could massively come down to how well Trippier can prevent Rashford from causing problems.
In the 175 games played, dating all the way back to 1895, United have won 91 of those games, drawing 41 and losing 43.
In their last seven meetings, United have won five, drawing two.
Therefore, history massively favours United.
However, all season, Newcastle have only lost once at home to Liverpool.
Subsequently, going to St James Park, and taking the three points can be a daunting prospect.
With 12 games of the Premier League season left for both sides, a good start to the final run in is essential.
Having been in the top four, practically touching Champions League football for so long this season, Howe’s men will be hoping they can continue their form and not rapidly decline like Leicester City had done in previous seasons.
Liverpool are five points behind with a game in hand, but this won’t give Howe too much confidence after their miraculous recovery in the 2020/21 season to clinch third having seemingly looked like not making it into the Champions League, just weeks prior.
Thus, for Newcastle, a win here would be huge in keeping Jurgen Klopp’s men away from fourth, and would level them with United in third.
For Ten Hag, with United still in the Europa League and FA cup, a win on Sunday will be essential to retaining momentum and form for their remaining fixtures. United have consistently played twice a week for months and their upcoming calendar doesn’t differ. Thus, every game will be like a cup final for Ten Hag’s men, to ensure the morale stays high and the club can finish the best as possible.
Ultimately, Sunday’s clash will be a crucial game in deciding the outcome of the top four race. Both sides have a lot to lose, but so much to gain.
With a rampant atmosphere expected, Sunday’s game is destined to be a cracker.