Match Preview: United Seek Vital Away Win at Newcastle

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Last weekend, three defensive lapses, unfriendly woodwork, and a furious comeback that fell short saw Manchester United fall at home against Tottenham.

A home defeat is hard to take no matter how it happens, but when said failure is coupled with both of your primary title rivals winning away from home, it’s best to avoid take a peek at the league table, even if you’re not nearly as far behind as it might feel.

Such defeats also increase the importance of winning away from home, so today’s trip to Newcastle needs to be more profitable than the last two trips to the stadium formerly known as St. James’ Park. A draw today would certainly be a much better result than January’s 3-0 defeat, but with Chelsea and City both winning easily at home yesterday, a mere point wouldn’t be much to celebrate.

Newcastle aren’t likely to be as generous as Norwich and Sunderland, as home defeats have been a rarity under Alan Pardew. In the four months Chris Hughton was in charge in their top-flight return two years ago, Newcastle were 2-3-3 at home, with losses to powerhouse teams Blackpool, Stoke, and Blackburn. Since Pardew took over in December 2010, Newcastle are 17-11-5 at home, including a mark of 13-6-3 over the last season-plus. While two of those five wins belong to City, none belong to United, who preceded January’s capitulation with a goalless draw the previous April.

Strong defensive work has been a hallmark of Newcastle’s home success under Pardew. In their last 26 Premier League ties at the friendly confines, the Magpies have surrendered multiple goals only six times and posted 11 clean sheets. To compare for comparison’s sake, United allowed multiple goals seven times and posted 14 clean sheets in their last 26 home league ties, while the numbers are four and 14 respectively for City and seven and eight respectively for Chelsea.

As such, United need to send out those who will put the most pressure on the Newcastle back line and keep keeper Steve Harper busy. There’s no shortage of options to choose from, and multiple combinations of those options could bring about success, but the first two names on the teamsheet need to be Rooney and Van Persie, who are making up for lost time well after having little time together on the pitch to open the season. After being at the center of United’s unsuccessful rally against Spurs as a second-half sub, Rooney assisted on both of RVP’s goals in Tuesday’s Champions League win at CFR Cluj, and it would seem that it‘s only a matter of time before he opens his account for the season.

Speculating about selection specifics elsewhere can be an exercise in frustration when you consider what there is (two keepers who are worthy of a starting position, for example) and isn’t (no Vidic), but the horrors of last Saturday could well have a role in who isn’t and isn’t in at the start today.

Whoever is in, restricting the time Newcastle have on the ball and how much space they have to roam and create is key, as last week’s defeat provided the latest example in the elementary lesson that failing to do those things properly can prove mortal. Newcastle have been blanked at home only five times in the league under Pardew, in which time they’ve hit multiple goals more than 50% of the time (18 times in 33 matches). United know what Demba Ba (presently in form) and Papiss Cisse (starting to get there) can do, so it’s all a matter of not allowing to do it, not least through affecting the quality of the balls they receive and ensuring that any quality deliveries aren‘t profited from.

It’d also be ideal to avoid falling behind as United have been too prone to do thus far this season, even though deficits have been handled well with the exception of last Saturday and the season opener at Everton. It goes without saying, really, but falling behind should not be a prerequisite for playing your best.

That’s a setup for another nervy matchday, but whether it’s a smooth ride or a rollercoaster, United need to come away from their travels to Tyneside with three points. Will it happen? We’ll find out in a few short hours, but given the incredible record over the last several seasons in regards to avoiding back-to-back league defeats, the odds are well in favor of a bounce-back today.

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23 Comments

  1. Gonna be a tough one. hopefully we have enough to at least show up. a draw wouldn’t be that bad but we really need to pick up the points

    DDG
    Rafael Rio Evans Evra
    Carrick Cleverly Rooney Kagawa Welbeck RvP

  2. Looks like we have finished our quota of ‘goals from the corner’ for this season in this one match 😛

  3. good performance and more importantly we weren’t overan in mid. tactics seemed to work today.

    De Gea still needs some toughening up.some dodgy keeping there. off to the clasico then 🙂

  4. Someone tell me how the fook Welbeck deserves to play? He made no impact on the game, had no presence or composure in the box, should have scored two sitters and fluffed his lines in that box persistently. He is a total turnip, and I don’t know how long we can persist with this lad, when he keeps costing us the goals we need to win games comfortably. SAF needs to get real over this lad and quick! Apart from that the lads were excellent today, and good possession football. De Gea is a great shot stopper, but he cannot catch the ball to save his life, and it puts us in problems when the opposition take corners. Kagawa is having too many average games, but he is still to bed in to the PL, and he was played out of position soooooooooooo. SAF sort Welbeck out or push him out the door PLEASE! He is calamity Jane in the penalty area, and can’t tackle to save his life, and he doesn’t put in any EFFORT, dopey git!

  5. Rooney, Cleverley and Carrick were superb. I can finish better than Welbeck, he is no better than Paulo Wanchope.
    Rio and Evans had a terrific game and Evra deserves a lot of credit, all the hype before hand was all Newcastle has to do to win was turn up, great result, put the inbred mythical great supporting Geordies in their place.

    • Mate, Welbeck offers so much more though, his finishing will improve (it has to) but his workrate is undeniable and it showed today when he presses defenders (and the goalie) he’s got an intelligence to make it difficult for them and actually position himself in a way that effects their ability to clear or pass etc, others (like Hernandez) just run at the opposition in the hope they might just get in the way and rarely do. Welbeck was up there for MotM for me today. Attack is the first form of defence, and when your attackers press like that in the final third it’s hard to conquer, in recent weeks/months we’ve been guilty of sitting back and letting opponents get a stranglehold on the game, today we put a stop to that.

      • @Ian: Welbeck MotM????? You and I have to agree to disagree… saves A LOT of time. I thought he was our worst player by a couple magnitudes… does he have chronic vertigo???

      • @Ian: I do agree Welbeck offers something different, his work rate is good and is a physical presence. But there are two glaring holes, he has no quality and can’t finish. I totally disagree with you when you say he will learn how to finish. This is something you can’t teach, you either have it or you don’t. I will say he is young, but would you rather have him or Lewandowski or Benzama? His positional sense is poor and must be a nightmare to play with as he doesn’t know what he is doing, how can a strike partner? He is still young and he needs more time, but for me we can do a lot better.

  6. Rooney is a class act. He has effortlessly transitioned into his new role in the team letting Van Persie take over as the goalscorer. I’m really glad because I always felt he was wasted as a poacher and now he is getting to exert his influence more on the game.

    I still don’t think our midfield is fixed. Newcastle have been crap this season and didn’t really put our midfield to the sword.

  7. Solid Performace, I thought Welbeck was poor actually.

    And Cleverley was actually not up to much today, obviously he got the wonder goal but without that was an average performance from him.

    Hats off to all the other outfield players though, great stuff and good to see us score on corners for once.

  8. Some very contrasting opinions on players performances, but one thing’s for sure, I bet Mancini wishes Balotelli has a fraction of the attitude and work rate of Danny Welbeck.

    I know who I’d rather have to work with.

    • @Ian: They’d rather work with me: positive, hard-working, will play for almost nothing (2K/week), will tutor kids and players in various maths and sciences, will cook great team dinners, will promote a healthy working environment. 😀

  9. Some of the comments about Welbeck on here are a disgrace. Laying into a 21 year old lad saying he’s not good enough, he’ll never learn how to finish, he should be sold and so on. What a load of crap. As for that rubbish about rather having Lewandowski or Benzema? The difference is that Danny is a Manchester lad, United through and through. Yet you want him sold ASAP and replaced by some 30 million pound ‘superstar’? Laughable. This is not FIFA 13 you muppet.

    • @Ray: Alright Danny… we love you. Now go out and start practice your 1-on-1s and go ice-skating… it’s teach you balance 😛

    • @Ray: You are the muppet mate, because he is from Manchester we have put up with the fact he can’t finish? Get over yourself, because he is English he would comand a high fee. Lewandowski’s contract is running down he we could the same price if not cheaper, I know who I would prefer…. 🙄

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