Manchester United vs Newcastle United is one of the greatest games of Premier League history. Since the sides first meeting in 1993, they have drawn only 11 times in 38 appearances. There have been several blockbuster goals and Manchester United have been on the receiving end of a few of those. 5-0 in 1996/97, 3-0 in 1999/00, 4-3 in 2001/02 and most recently 3-0 in 2011/12 are scorelines that resonate in the minds of Newcastle fans. Unfortunately, Man Utd have won the remaining 23 games between the two and as such it represents one of the more one sided fixtures in the Premier League.
Manchester United will certainly hope history follows fate after Everton ended their drought against Man Utd at Old Trafford to leave them 12 points behind the leaders following a 3 game winless streak. Against Newcastle, Man Utd have the chance to start clawing back the deficit and will welcome the return of Robin Van Persie.
Unfortunately, every piece of good news Moyes receives is seemingly ruined by a piece of bad news - Wayne Rooney is out with a suspension. During this appalling spell Rooney has been the saving grace for Man Utd, without him they would have certainly lost against Cardiff and Tottenham. While he has been in great goal-scoring form, his greatest asset to Man Utd has been his creativity.
Of course Van Persie will be on the pitch and I have expressed in the past Van Persie can play deeper, though there are two problems with this:
- He has not done this in a long time and he has not done it for Man Utd
- To ask him to play a relatively foreign position when he has been out for so long may be asking too much of him
Therefore if Man Utd are to win, the spark needs to come from someone else, but who? Fellaini would be the first to be expected to react to Man Utd's needs - especially after the amount of money spent on him, but he was only able to be an attacking threat at Everton because they lumped the ball to him up front, Man Utd will not play to that strength.
There is Nani and Januzaj, however one is horrendously erratic and the other despite being extremely skillful, has yet to learn how to display his talents for the full 90 mins.
Outside those two you begin to scratch your head. What is even worse is Newcastle are a strong physical team and have in previous matches of a similar standing (Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham) remained compact before before bursting into life, giving the supposed favourites the shock of their lives.
Manchester United 0-0 Newscastle United
*All statistics courtesy of WhoScored