Now that the burden of winning the treble has been lifted following the disappointing semi-final on Saturday, United travel to St James Park hoping to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to nine points. Having won the 7 games previous to the semi-final, some of our momentum has been lost, but Sir Alex and his men would have been buoyed by Liverpool’s late equalizer at the Emirates yesterday.
In recent years, the Reds have enjoyed great success against Newcastle and considering their weakened line-up, it is something we hope to continue.
Having sold Andy Carroll for the ridiculous sum of £35m, the Toon Army have struggled after the loss of their leading striker. Although Best & Ranger have all tried to replace Carroll, alongside Ameobi (with their aerial threat), it is the diminutive figure of Peter Lovenkrands who is seemingly being used to take his place at the moment.
In the centre of the field, Kevin Nolan is suspended and will be a major loss, considering his 12 goals this season. Other absentees include #1 keeper Steve Harper, former Red Alan Smith and tricky winger Ben Arfa. However, Aston Villa loanee, Stephen Ireland, may play despite his wife’s recent car crash.
Following the poor performance at Wembley, Sir Alex will probably want to freshen up the team for this tough match by making a few changes. At the back, Rafael is an outside bet to make a comeback but he will most probably be given till the weekend, with O’ Shea retaining his place. However, his brother, Fabio, may well play at LB, considering Patrice Evra‘s recent poor form. In the middle, I expect Rio to be rested having played on Saturday and with his wife giving birth on Sunday – although Jonny Evans is available after suspension – I expect Chris Smalling to deputize alongside Vidic.
Ahead of the back four, I think Sir Alex will revert to the same forward line that faced Chelsea, with Giggs and Carrick in the middle. However, Anderson may well make an appearance with his recent return to fitness and promising substitute appearances. I do not believe Berbatov will start following his poor performances away from home this season and his woeful misses against City.
I’m Sure Chicharito Would Love to Play Against Sol Campbell…
No matter how much you hate him, he is undoubtedly having a fine season (although he’s not the best English midfielder as he likes to think). Deployed on the right side of midfield, the ex-City player is enjoying a renaissance of the form he showed when he earned his only England cap. Playing intelligently and maturely, his crossing and work-rate have earned Newcastle many points this season and he will certainly pose Evra problems, especially considering the Frenchman’s recent loss of form.
With Rooney returning from a ludicrous 2 game domestic ban, Tiote will have to contend with the Englishman, who is in fine form. Operating in between Newcastle’s midfield and defence, Rooney will be looking to form an attacking diamond with Chicharito, Nani & Valencia, from which he can exert his creative influence. If Newcastle want to keep a clean sheet, and stop Rooney playing, then it is paramount that the Ivory Coast midfield drops deep and protects his back four, who will be vulnerable to the counter. If he does that task well, it may well encourage Sir Alex to put in a cheeky bid in the summer.
What a Goal That Was…
Newcastle United 0 2 Manchester United
With the chance to put ourselves 9 points clear at the top of the Premier League, I expect United to be totally up for this match on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, Newcastle are basically safe from relegation, on an inconsistent run and struggling with injuries. Looking at all these factors, I can’t see beyond a win for United – Come on the Reds!