Newcastle United will be determined to avoid a fourth consecutive Premier League defeat as they host Manchester United in a fixture where they have not so much as scored in just over four years.
Each of the recent setbacks suffered by Steve McClaren’s men have been by a single goal margin, and had they taken some very presentable scoring chances they would likely have emerged with some points to show for their considerable efforts. It was quite remarkable how they came away with nothing from their opening game of 2016 at leaders Arsenal, where they created most of the chances but a combination of poor finishing and strong goalkeeping from Petr Cech kept them out.
At present it evidently just a lack of ruthlessness that is preventing Newcastle from moving away from the drop zone, but they unquestionably have players that can hurt their visitors here, with Georginio Wijnaldum unlikely to show any mercy to his former national team coach Louis van Gaal, while another Dutchman in right-back Daryl Janmaat has been one of the Tyneside club’s most impressive players going forward this season.
There was a great amount of relief at Man Utd after they sneaked past the challenge of Swansea City in their last Premier League to record a first victory in some eight matches, but one bad result will immediately force immense pressure back on van Gaal’s shoulders, so he needs to oversee the accumulation of plenty of points over the coming weeks to help the club push towards the Champions League places. There has even been talk of high-profile sponsors voicing their discontent over the team’s playing style.
Just like so many young players, Anthony Martial is one that tends to blow hot and cold, but he was hugely influential in that win over the Swans. His pace appears to pose the greatest danger to the home defence here, and he will look to exploit the gap left by Janmaat as he moves up the field to support the Newcastle attack and provide crosses such as the one which allowed Wayne Rooney to stylishly net a winner that might have turned the Red Devils’ campaign around.
The hosts should have Jack Colback available, but are likely to be without Kevin Mbabu, Florian Thauvin, and captain Fabricio Coloccini.
Man Utd are unable to call upon Bastian Schweinsteiger because of a knee injury, but there could be recalls for Morgan Schneiderlin, Ashley Young and Michael Carrick.
Played for both – Nicky Butt: A member of the infamous Class of ’92, Butt spent the first 12 years of his professional career at Man Utd and won a huge amount of silverware including eight Premier League titles and the Champions League. He moved to Newcastle in 2004 and initially struggled to find favour, but he went on to make 117 top-flight appearances for the club either side of a spell on loan at Birmingham City.