Manchester United are the form team coming into this matchup, with Newcastle struggling out of the gate. The Reds did the double over the Magpies last season, but let’s take a look at the changes in Geordie country since then.
A familiar face returns to Old Trafford in Steve McClaren. The former MUFC assistant and England boss was hired at St. James’ Park in June. His CV boasts a League Cup win with ‘Boro in 2004 and the Dutch Eredivisie title with FC Twente in 2009/10.
‘Schteve’ has named unchanged 4-2-3-1 lineups in NUFC’s first two Premier League games, but will be forced into at least one deviation as first-choice right back Daryl Janmaat was sent off last week against Swansea City.
McClaren has spent almost £50m over the summer, including deals for Anderlecht pair Chancel Mbemba and Aleksandar Mitrovic, playmaker Georginio Wijnaldum from PSV and French winger Florian Thauvin from Marseille.
Remy Cabella heads to OM as part of the Thauvin deal and Davide Santon has returned to Italy and his former club, Inter.
NUFC started at home with Southampton and a 2-2 draw – Papiss Cissé and Wijnaldum the goalscorers. They had been up 2-1 before Shane Long equalized with about 10 minutes to play.
Janmaat’s 41st-minute dismissal for a second yellow didn’t help against Swansea in Wales – but Newcastle were already trailing at the time after Gomis opened the scoring early. The 2-0 loss looking like a fair result in any event.
This gives McClaren a selection headache for Saturday, with Jack Colback looking the likely candidate to fill in for the Dutchman – while the manager’s former FC Twente player Cheick Tioté could fill the vacant midfield berth.
As mentioned, the Red Devils won both times of asking against NUFC last season – and not without incident.
The home fixture was played on Boxing Day 2014, and we won 3-1 with two goals from Wayne Rooney and one from Robin van Persie. Wazza was deployed in midfield that day behind RVP and Falcao, and remember we were still experimenting with three at the back. Our clean sheet was marred by the ever-exciting Phil Jones who conceded a late foul that allowed Cissé to convert from the spot.
We travelled to St. James’ Park in March and came away 1-0 winners, thanks to a late Ashley Young goal. This match was tainted by the Jonny Evans/Cissé ‘spit spat’. The pair were both hit with heavy suspensions, and rightly so.
It’s hard to look past Manchester United in this one, with the Magpies only managing one win in their last 10 at Old Trafford [1W-7L-2D]. Optimism must be growing in the Reds camp and Newcastle haven’t looked quite up to it so far. I must be feeling good about it, because I can see Rooney breaking his duck here, too.