Manchester United return from the international break to host Newcastle United at Old Trafford in Saturday evening’s Premier League game.
We start the weekend joint second, eight points behind leaders Manchester City, whilst Newcastle are 11th after being beaten 1-0 at home by Bournemouth before the break.
Although reports have suggested Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic could make their return on Saturday I certainly don’t expect either to be in the starting lineup for the visit of Rafa Benitez’s team.
Here is the team I think Jose Mourinho will name:
David de Gea
The best goalkeeper in the Premier League; David de Gea will be looking to keep his 9th clean sheet in his 12th Premier League game of the season. We are yet to concede a single goal at Old Trafford in the league this season.
The experienced right-back should be up against exciting youngster Jacob Murphy defensively with Christian Atsu a doubt through injury for the visitors. Going forward I would expect Antonio Valencia to supply some crosses from the right if he’s up against Javier Manquillo.
A rock in defence, Eric Bailly could face Joselu, whose role at Newcastle as a striker seems more to be to hold up the ball and bring teammates into play rather than score goals. However, Ayoze Perez is an exciting young Spaniard who hangs around the attack and should be one to keep an eye on, though he does only have one goal in 11 appearances so far this season.
Jose Mourinho has said that Phil Jones is out of Saturday’s game so Chris Smalling is the obvious choice to come in to partner Eric Bailly. The England international has already made a number of starts in all competitions this season so shouldn’t be a problem for him facing Newcastle.
Newcastle have a pacey full-back in DeAndre Yedlin so I think Ashley Young is the obvious choice for us defensively. I am not a big fan of the American’s defensive abilities so I think starting Young to bomb forward, cut inside and put some inswinging crosses in on his right foot is a sensible choice for us.
Nemanja Matic got a break last weekend as he did not feature for Serbia in their final friendlies of 2017. This was much needed for the midfielder who has been heavily involved for us this weekend. Matic’s responsibilities this weekend will be to maintain possession and start attacks, but also to prevent Matt Ritchie from getting any long range shots in on his dangerous left peg.
I think the Spaniard’s energy will get him the nod ahead of Marouane Fellaini in the starting lineup this weekend. As well as being quicker to close down opponents like Ritchie than his Belgian teammate, I think Fellaini makes the better Plan B if we’re level or even behind after the hour mark.
As already touched upon, I think we can get at Manquillo if he starts at left-back for Newcastle. With Antonio Valencia offering width down the right, Juan Mata can cut in on his left foot for potential shots at goal or to pick out fellow attacking teammates. Newcastle are a defence-first team so it’s not crucial to have a defensive player on our right wing this weekend.
The Armenian could do with a good performance this weekend with Paul Pogba nearing his return, though it is perhaps the French star’s absence that explains the dramatic dip in form of Henrikh Mkhitaryan. If he can open up the Newcastle back four that would be great, and win any free kicks off Jonjo Shelvey around the penalty area would be a bonus.
Played 135 minutes in England’s two friendlies over the past week but I think Marcus Rashford starts on the left for us this weekend as he is preferred over Anthony Martial by the boss. Was a bright spark for us in October despite a few disappointing results and is certainly capable of being the match winner this weekend.
Failed to get on the scoresheet throughout October, Romelu Lukaku will be desperate to break his goal drought once again this weekend and I have faith he can do so versus Rafa Benitez’s side.
Here is how we line up on paper: