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Manchester United Fixtures

United Look to Rebound with Triumph at Newcastle

In a long season, there are going to be setbacks, no matter who you are. That’s a guarantee. But it’s how you respond to those setbacks that matters, and Manchester United will look to provide their usual response to rare setbacks when they take on Newcastle United tonight at Sports Direct Arena. The shock home defeat to Blackburn on New Year’s Eve was a setback that no one could have seen coming, especially given the form that United were in coming into the match, but what’s happened has happened, and though a win tonight won’t take away the stink from Saturday’s setback, it will see a winning start to 2012, and more importantly, it will keep United right where they need to be in the Premier League title race.


Newcastle United

1. After starting the season with an 11-match unbeaten streak, Newcastle have struggled for the last month and a half, going 1-2-5 in their last eight matches. They did snap a six-match winless run with a 2-0 win at Bolton on Boxing Day, but they followed that with last Friday’s 3-1 defeat at Liverpool, which marked the fifth time in their last eight matches that they’ve allowed three or more goals.

In that unbeaten run, Newcastle picked up 25 points, and they were sitting third in the Premier League table and six points back of City heading into a match at City on 19 November. Now, they sit seventh in the table, 18 points back of City, seven points back of fourth-placed Chelsea, and only one ahead of Stoke City, who sit eighth.

2. Newcastle’s unbeaten run was due in no small part to being fantastic defensively, and their recent struggles are due in no small part to falling apart defensively. In their first 11 matches, Newcastle allowed only eight goals, but in their last eight matches, they’ve surrendered 17 goals.

3. When it comes to scoring, Newcastle are ninth in the league in goals with 26, and more than half of those 26 goals have come directly from one source. Demba Ba has netted 14 times this season, which sees him tied for second with Sergio Aguero in the Premier League scoring charts, three behind Robin van Persie and one ahead of Wayne Rooney.

4. Newcastle were 4-2-0 in their first six home matches, but in their last three home matches, they’re 0-1-2, with defeats to Chelsea and West Brom sandwiched around a goalless draw against Swansea City.

Manchester United

1. After nine away matches last season, United were unbeaten, but they had seven draws and only two wins. United are unbeaten at the same point this season, but it’s with seven wins and two draws. What a difference a year makes, eh?

United have won their last five away matches, and they’ve posted a clean sheet in each of those five matches. And after scraping by with 1-0 wins in the first three of those five matches, United have turned it up a few notches in the last two, scoring seven goals in wins at QPR and Fulham.

That away record has helped soften the blow of three disappointing home results, and they’ll need to keep it up today to keep pace with City, who pulled three points clear with last night’s 3-0 win over Liverpool.

2. United have allowed all of three goals away from home this season, and after making some costly defensive mistakes against Blackburn, a strong defensive performance will be a welcome sight tonight.

Considering what happened the last time United lost in the league, things would appear to be promising for tonight in that aspect. After the defeat to City, United went on a nine-match unbeaten run in the league, and in that run, they scored 21 goals and allowed only two, and they posted seven clean sheets.

3. United have been strong in attack in the last several weeks, scoring 18 goals in their last five matches, and we should see no shortage of chances created tonight.

However, will United be justly rewarded for all of those chances? Keeper Tim Krul and Newcastle’s back line have performed extremely well against United in the last two meetings between the sides, keeping a clean sheet in last April’s goalless draw at St. James’ Park and somehow limiting United to only one goal in November’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.

But for what it’s worth, United weren’t finishing nearly as well as they should have been in that November draw, which made almost as much of a difference as Newcastle’s defensive performance did.

4. After not even being on the bench on Saturday, Wayne Rooney returns to the starting lineup tonight, and he’ll be joined up front by Dimitar Berbatov, who has earned a continued place in the starting XI with six goals in his last three matches.

Also, Rio Ferdinand returns to the starting lineup, which means that Michael Carrick returns to his usual place in the center of midfield, something that will most certainly benefit United tonight.

And last but not least, Anders Lindegaard gets the start tonight in goal ahead of David de Gea, who had a forgettable afternoon against Blackburn, and with all respect to De Gea, Lindegaard’s presence should be a good omen for United. Coming into tonight’s match, Lindegaard has started five Premier League matches, and in those five matches, he’s posted five clean sheets. The result in those five matches? Five United wins – v. Norwich, Sunderland, and Wigan, and at Aston Villa and Fulham.

Starting Lineups

Manchester United:  Lindegaard; Valencia, Jones, Ferdinand, Evra; Nani, Carrick, Giggs, Park; Rooney, Berbatov. Subs: De Gea, Rafael, Anderson, Pogba, Lingard, Hernandez, Welbeck.

Newcastle United: Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, R.Taylor, Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Ba, Shola Ameobi. Subs: Harper, Perch, Vuckic, Obertan, Ben Arfa, Ameobi, Best.



  1. colver

    5 January 2012 at 17:14

    Ian, I don’t think that is necessary because the youngsters are ready for Premier League football just at a midtable side rather than a top four club. We’ve seen how successful teams like West Ham have been in nurturing young talent and turning them into players worthy of turning out for a top four side.

    But no real way round it. If we try and restrict transfer of young British players Premier League clubs will just bring in foreign youngsters. Or foreign clubs will try and poach young British talent.

    Of course the fixture pile up doesn’t help. If we didn’t have so many fixtures and had a winter break we could have carefully chosen games for Jones where he could learn his trade as a central defender. Instead he has been thrown into some very difficult games against tough seasoned Premier League strikers.

    The system I admire the most is the Spanish system of having a B team in a lower league which allows the youngsters to learn their trade there.

    • gator

      5 January 2012 at 17:32

      @colver: great minds 😆

    • Ian

      5 January 2012 at 18:41


      against tough seasoned Premier League strikers

      Demba Ba? 1 1/2 seasons? I’ll give you Yakubu (on his day), he was a handful. Shola Ameobi? Goodwillie?

      Not exactly seasoned at all really in my view. I understand what you’re saying and agree in with some of it but that description seems out of place.

  2. Don

    5 January 2012 at 17:39

    Carrick….the one of the players who divides opinion of many a United fan like Berbatov…I wouldn’t throw Carrick under the bus..he has been arguably our best player the past month…I think the problem is he plays such a key position (Central midfield) and often when we need a player in that area to grab the game by the scruff of the neck he just seems so incapable and continues his sideways thoughtful careful passing…it’s just not in his personality..he is who he is..a decent player but I often feel we need more than just a decent player in midfield…even though Anderson often has a touch of a donkey the thing i love about him is he drives the team forward and plays with determination when the team needs that…Carrick for all his elegance will never rescue us from a dire situation like the Newcastle/Blackburn games

    • Fred the Red

      6 January 2012 at 04:12

      @Don: Totally agree, Carrick is far from a bad player, and what he gives the team is not bad, but in certain games what he does just isnt enough. Teams have worked this out with a few of Uniteds players, namely Carrick, Park and Fletcher, and they do not fear playing against them. All three are decent at what they do, but what they do is just average, and its unnaceptable for a club of Uniteds stature to be using giving so many of these type of players regulat starts, sometimes all three together. You can start one or maybe two in a team full of quality players. But playing all three togther, or varations of average players is being shown up for what it is. By the way, all three are great proffessionals with great attitudes. But this not does compsenate at a club like United for a lack of quality, harsh but true. And maybe Fletcher has mitigating circumstances.

  3. Yang

    5 January 2012 at 20:14

    From the last season, we has had problem with CB. Evans look very weak against physical type forward. Team got a lot of stick because hiccup at defensive fallacy. All sort of stupid knee jerk comment like United won the league due to lacking of competition etc.

    Only Vida perform good and he is only one stand against most premiership forwards. Not surprisingly, Fergie bring in CB but new young prospect is not ready yet. We need CM for while but we are still waiting. Nani is excellent asset for team as a rare dribbler However, him and Rooney are very susceptible at pressure. Team need fresh CM and Rooney should play as a forward not a midfielder role. We keep giving the ball to Nani who double marked all game why ignoring opposite side or central area I have no idea.

  4. Traverse

    6 January 2012 at 01:10

    • Craig Mc

      6 January 2012 at 01:59

      @Traverse: Yep – Fergie can’t show himself to be any more desperate can he – but then for all the boasting of the supposed money available – we all believe Fergie has only peanuts to spend! Otherwise why go after Lampard at his age – and why when we have so much more income coming in than almost everyone else are we not seeing our level of ddebt going down at all, and huge amounts of loss being shown in our balance sheets???

      • [OPTI]Madschester United

        6 January 2012 at 05:08

        @Craig Mc: Almost had me guys… was scrambling Google to see that is was just a rumor… PHEW!

  5. Craig Mc

    6 January 2012 at 02:05

    I don’t care if we do win the PL or not so much this season – what I care about is that my great club has been embarrassed in every competition we have played in this season, and that mostly by the minnows of the football world – sad really and very disheartening for the faithful! The fans will still be there though in spite of the helterskelter we are being put thru – because we are RED til DEAD!

    • Fred the Red

      6 January 2012 at 03:56

      @Craig Mc: Have to agree with you, Im not particularly worried if United go trophyless this season. But I would like to see signs that they are going in the righ direction. I think the foundations are there for a good transition, but a few top level purchases are needed to complete the task, and its in this regard were I would be most concerned. There seems a reluctance by the manager to invest in top level proven players, Berbatov was the last and that was nearly four seasons ago. United have had four truly world class central mids in the last 30 years, all four were recognised the world over as great players. Robson, Ince, Keane and Scholes. Only one of them came through the ranks, the other three were big money signings, with Robson and Keane being British transfer records at the time. These players rarely come through the ranks and do not grow on trees mate. But if United are going to recapture the former success then in certain positions heavy investment is required on a few players. Now Im not saying that every signing must be a big one, make them only when they are required. At the minute one or two are required, but the lack of movement on Uniteds part is troubling.
      Since Ronaldo and Tevez left, there has been a steady decline in the quality of football being played by United. It can be effective, but its not good to watch, and for as long as Ive been watching them, its not the United way. As you well know, United fans like football played a certain way, with attacking or fast counter attacking being the norm. What has been served up this last few seasons for long periods has been boring and pedestrian. Its getting harder and harder to watch and the fans, especially those shelling out hundreds on season tickets, deserve better. I hope Sir Alex delivers again, but I would be lying if I said I am convinced that he will this time, lets wait and see.

      • Craig Mc

        6 January 2012 at 05:51

        @Fred the Red: Very good points you make Fred, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. You can be sure of one thing though – we care of course, but I don’t think the fans will ever outdo Fergie in the way we/he cares for Man United. He cares so much as we do mate – I don’t go along with all the Fergie couldn’t give a toss, or has totally lost it and other such disrespectful things – I am certain always of how much he cares and loves the club. I think the Glazers have made a lot of decisions regarding us buying only players with big sell on value. Because this is what is their policy in the USA american football club they are owners of. The Glazers don’t give a toss about british football, they only care about the revenue they can grab from fans and sponsors alike – extortionate. I hate what they have done to the club, and that is the only thing where I don’t respect Sir Ferg in that unwavering support he gives to the Glazers after the way they have saddled our club with massive debt. That is the main thing I don’t understand Fergie for. Man Utd used to go out and now and again get the very best player – the true talented stars – that stand out above all others. That one great outstanding star each season or couple of seasons was what kept us at the very top for so long. So I don’t understand why we don’t do that anymore – but keep going and spending the 8, 9, 10, 15 and 20 millions on supposedly future players – all those amounts for many players thus far who haven’t worked out added up would come to like 50 million plus – so we are throwing money away. We don’t always get a good return for selling them on either – in fact it often seems a pittance. The Greedy vultures the money is our GOD Glazers should have sold the club to the several exceedingly wealthy buyers who wanted to purchase. But they have no intention of giving up their little or big should I say cash cow. So I hate with all within me the Glazers and always will. We were a club with no debt until those vultures came in, and Fergie had a very big part to play in that, because after his racehorse row with the Irish magnate board members – they turned and sold ALL THEIR SHARES TO THE GLAZERS. Thats how the Glazers first got their foot in the OT door I understand from all accounts – SAD FRED so sad.

        • Vida Dollar

          6 January 2012 at 14:05

          A new day and a better frame of mind. A bad day @ Newcastle but an important lesson.At least the areas that need to be sorted have been exposed. Those lucky 1-0 wins were making it look like it is working (united resilience, 3points is 3 points etc) while we were not convincing. Against CITY 6-1 and against newcastle all the players in there were first team players playing in positions they have played before but it was not enough.Even vs crystal palace and Basel majority are what we have lets not be blinded by the injuries because that is what squad football is about. Even when fit it might not be automatic that Cleverly plays ahead of fletcher so this is who we are.SAF is clutching at straws when he rues Cleverly’s absence coz I dont think he planned him to be that key esp with ando, carrick ,park & fletcher fit.Maybe the gaffer really has no money to buy. I think since we are already deep in the mud SAF should be bold and start playing a completely new side with the likes of pogba, Jones , The twins, welbeck etc prominent and only use only 3 to 4 senior players like nani, Valencia, Rooney and Ferdinand. If we are beaten its ok becoz we will be truly rebuilding. These other chaps like Carrick, Park,giggs etc seem to slow down the game for these youngsters and are not providing the experience and leadership required of them. I think for arsenal it nearly worked if Wenger wasnt an idiot because that team would take some stopping if they had held on to fabregas,clichy,toure and Nasri. Just thoughts.

        • Fred the Red

          6 January 2012 at 18:45

          @Craig Mc: Again I agree with you. Sir Alex cares more for United than probably most fans,so I dont believe for one second that he doesnt care any more. And theres no doubt that the Glazers buy out of the club with predominately borrowed money has seen far too much money needlessly going out of the club. But on this point I would have to quote the manager who has stated many times that the Glazers have never refused his request for a player,and that if the right player came along that the funds would be available. So I will take his word for it and then ask the question why has he not made some top level purchases? The player having a resale value is something I do believe is happening at OT, if its not then I would wonder why Wesley Sniejder is not at United. He practically said come and get me last summer and even now I think that if United offered 25 million for him and gave him what Wayne Rooney is getting that they would get their man. Can you imagine the lift the fans and the players would get if it was announced that Sniejder was signing? I dont think the club realise the phsycological lift the club would get if it was to happen.
          But my main concern is that I dont think that SAF can see how average certain United players are. I cant remember in thirty years of being a United fan, a midfield so lacking in attacking guile and quality. No more than good honest pros are getting regular starts at OT. The last of he magic left along with Scholesy and what remained was never going to be good enough to get the job done. And giving new contracts to players like Giggs makes me question wether the manager has a vision for his new team. One things for sure, until some quality players are signed, United fans are going to get more restless. Only yesterday on talksport, United fans were attacking SAF more than at any time I have been listening What I would say in his defense is that it appears that there was genuine moves to bring Sniejder and Nasi to United in the summer, so he must see the need. Lets hope that he does, and that he brings them in, either in Jnuary if he can, or at least in the summer. Interesting times ahead.

  6. Moscow is my heaven

    6 January 2012 at 10:46

    After denying the Lampard rumours:

    Ferguson also moved to play down expectations of other signings in the present transfer window. “What can you get in January?” he said. “The players we’d like, we can’t get. If the alternative is to sign a second-rate player, we don’t want to do that.

    “Our injuries have led to fans wanting us to sign someone but I don’t want to sign a player who won’t get a game when everyone’s fit because he’s not good enough.

    We can wave goodbye to that Premier League title then 🙄

    • Stephen

      6 January 2012 at 14:14

      @Moscow is my heaven: “Our injuries have led to fans wanting us to sign someone but I don’t want to sign a player who won’t get a game when everyone’s fit because he’s not good enough.“

      What a midfield of Anderson, Jones or Rafael and Park are good enough?? 😯
      He could sign anyone, because at the right price most are is availble.

      He needs to realise the fans are not stupid and his smoke screen is starting to clear.

      Also he said this about Paul Pogba was we failed to sign Sneijder:

      “The young boy Pogba is showing great promise,” he says of the boy who could be shaped to become the next Paul Scholes.

      “We are quite positive about him. If we hold him back, what is going to happen? He will leave in a couple of years’ time when his contract has finished.

      “We have to give him the opportunity to see how he will do in the first team. He has great ability. He has the physique and athleticism.

      Well fucking play him then…. 👿 😈

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