Having lost three out of their last four league games, Newcastle United are looking to kick-start their season with a good result against leaders Manchester United. Red Devils can make a big step towards the Premiership title by winning at St James Park, while they are also looking to make amends for the FA Cup exit at the hands of City.
Newcastle going through a rough patch
Newcastle have done so well this season that not even the latest poor run of results can damage their survival chances, although the Magpies are looking to show some improvement and finish the season in top part of the table. Alan Pardew’s men seem to have relaxed a bit after virtually ensuring survival and they are now going through a very rough patch of form that saw them lose three out of last four league games. Difficult injury situation is definitely one of the reasons for the downtrend in form since Alan Pardew was forced to tinker with his formation and play several footballers out of position in the absence of better options. The hosts are now low on confidence and are likely to experience numerous problems against high-flying United, especially as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men are very motivated to make amends for the FA Cup defeat to City.
Shola Ameobi is a major doubt with a knee injury, whereas Leon Best, Hatem Ben Arfa and Alan Smith are out for the season. Stephen Ireland and James Perch return from injury and suspension respectively, while Cheik Tiote is also back.
United out of the FA Cup
Manchester United have been eliminated from the second domestic competition as they lost the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley to Manchester City and Sir Alex Ferguson will certainly be looking for a response from his players. Arsenal’s draw with Liverpool meant that United are now six points clear at the top and the three points from St James Park would see the Red Devils close in on the Premiership title. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have been playing great football of late and it is highly unlikely that one defeat would destabilize them, even if it was recorded against the fierce rivals. Fergie will have Wayne Rooney back from suspension, which is going to be a major boost, while Ryan Giggs and Javier Hernandez should also return to the starting line-up.
Paul Scholes is suspended following the red card against City, but Jonny Evans returns from a ban. Darren Fletcher and Owen Hargreaves remain sidelined.
Newcastle have been playing way below the standard during the last few weeks and after losing three of their last four games, it is highly unlikely they will manage to get something from this game. Manchester United are eager to make amends for the FA Cup defeat to City, and they are expected to win the game without too many problems.
Our prediction: Away win with -0.75 Asian handicap
Odds: 1.98 (49/50)