Two teams struggling in front of goal and facing criticism from their own fans meet at St. James’ Park on Tuesday, with both in desperate need of points and goals.
Newcastle’s defeat at Watford in the FA Cup on Saturday was their fourth consecutive 1-0 defeat, and the Magpies haven’t scored since Fabricio Coloccini netted against Aston Villa on December 19.
Steve McClaren has made his first January swoop as he looks to secure the players to keep the Toon in the top-flight, with Bordeaux midfielder Henri Saivet completing his move to Tyneside on Monday, with Swansea City midfielder Jonjo Shelvey likely to join him.
It is in front of goal where Newcastle really need reinforcements, however, as the big-money summer signings continue to struggle; Aleksander Mitrovic has netted just three times in the Premier League, whilst four of top scorer Georginio Wijnaldum’s seven goals came in the same game, at home to Norwich in October.
Manchester United needed a last-minute Wayne Rooney penalty to scrape past League One Sheffield United at the weekend, which led to fresh criticism from fans and former players, notably Paul Scholes, who has become a regular critic of the Louis van Gaal regime.
Despite a lack of goals and excitement at Old Trafford, the Dutchman’s side sit fifth in the Premier League and are just three points outside the top four due to their win against Swansea last time out.
If there is any team that Manchester United look forward to playing, it is Newcastle; they have won on their last three visits to St. James’ Park without conceding a goal, and have lost just twice in their last 25 matches against the Magpies.
Wayne Rooney is looking to score in consecutive league matches for the first time since November 2014; the England frontman and his teammates need to start firing if their under-pressure boss is to stay in the dugout.
The hosts have several injury concerns for the fixture, with captain Fabricio Coloccini and midfielders Kevin Mbabu and Florian Thauvin doubtful. Jack Colback is set to return having overcome a hamstring strain.
The visitors have midfield problems of their own, with Bastian Schweinsteiger to miss out on the trip to Tyneside having picked up an injury in the FA Cup. Fortunately for Van Gaal, Michael Carrick and Morgan Schneiderlin are back in contention, as is Ashley Young, who scored the last-gasp winner in this fixture last season.
League Position: Newcastle – 18th (17 pts); Man Utd – 5th (33 pts)
Last Meeting: Manchester United 0-0 Newcastle United (August 22, 2015)
Form: Newcastle – WWDLLL; Man United – DLLLDW
Key Men: Newcastle – Ayoze Perez; Man United – Juan Mata
Shoot Says: Newcastle 1-1 Man Utd