MX23RW : Monday, September 20 12:11:10| >> :60:131:131:
Dec 26, 2019 at 5.30pm UK at Old Trafford
Attendance: 73,206
Man UtdManchester United
NewcastleNewcastle United
Martial (24', 51'), Greenwood (36'), Rashford (41')
FT(HT: 3-1)
Longstaff (17')

Preview: Manchester United vs. Newcastle United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Premier League clash between Manchester United and Newcastle United, including team news and predicted lineups.

Manchester United will be looking to return to winning ways in the Premier League when they host Newcastle United on Boxing Day.

The Red Devils suffered a 2-0 loss at basement side Watford on Sunday and now face a Newcastle team that have won three of their last four in England's top flight to move into ninth spot in the table.

Match preview

Watford's Ismaila Sarr scores against Manchester United in the Premier League on December 22, 2019© Reuters

United's tally of 25 points is their lowest ever at this stage of a Premier League campaign, and they suffered arguably their poorest result of the season at Watford on Sunday afternoon as they went down 2-0 to the Hornets.

Nigel Pearson's side had entered the match with just one league victory to their name all season but secured all three points with two goals early in the second period. It was an incredibly uninspiring performance from the 20-time English champions, who remain down in eighth spot in the table.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team are now seven points off fourth-placed Chelsea and level with Newcastle in ninth. The Magpies have actually won more league matches (7) than United (6) this season, and the visitors will enter the clash at Old Trafford full of confidence following an impressive run of form.

There was plenty of positivity among the United fans following the back-to-back wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, but the Red Devils were held by Everton on December 15 before losing at Watford.

Performing against the so-called bigger sides in the division has not been a problem, but they have now lost against Watford, Bournemouth, Newcastle, West Ham United and Crystal Palace in the league this term.

That said, the 20-time English champions have only suffered one loss at home in the Premier League this season, while they are unbeaten against Newcastle at Old Trafford in England's top flight since December 2013.

The Magpies did run out 1-0 winners in the reverse match earlier this season, while they pushed the Red Devils incredibly close in the corresponding fixture last term, with the hosts needing a 90th-minute strike from Alexis Sanchez to record a 3-2 victory after Newcastle had taken a two-goal lead.

Paul Pogba made his return against Watford on Sunday following a long spell on the sidelines, and Solskjaer was full of praise for the France international in his post-match press conference. The midfielder is likely to return to the XI for this match, and there is no question that he makes a huge difference to the side.

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford in action against Watford in the Premier League on December 22, 2019© Reuters

The January transfer window cannot come quick enough for United, though, with Red Bull Salzburg striker Erling Braut Haaland continuing to be strongly linked with a move. Solskjaer is also desperately short of options further back, though, and a new attacking midfielder is needed due to the struggles of Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira in that area of the field.

Whether the Red Devils spend big in January remains to be seen, but it would not be a surprise to see the current squad finish around sixth or seventh if no additions arrive. United, for all of their history, are currently desperately short of quality, particularly in the final third of the field.

Newcastle, meanwhile, will enter the match off the back of a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, with Miguel Almiron finally scoring his first goal for the club. Bruce faced a lot of criticism earlier this season, but the former United captain has won over a lot of the fans due to the recent results.

Indeed, the Magpies have only lost two of their last eight in the league, winning three of their last four to rise into the top half. As mentioned, they are level on points with United heading into this match and could end the day as high as sixth if results go in their favour.

Goals have been in short supply, though, with just 18 in their 18 matches. Only Watford and Palace have scored fewer, while Joelinton and Andy Carroll have managed just one league goal between them.

United have been outscored by five Premier League teams this season, while five sides have conceded fewer. There have been positive signs during the 2019-20 campaign - particularly the wins over Man City and Tottenham - but it remains to be seen whether the team can find some level of consistency.

Even with Newcastle's recent form, the home side will be under serious pressure to pick up all three points on Boxing Day. The fans were not pleased with the performance against Watford, although Solskjaer said after the match that he was still confident the team were moving in the right direction.

United will follow this match with a trip to Burnley on December 28, while Newcastle will welcome Everton on the same day. The nature of the festive period means that changes will have to be made, and it will be fascinating to see how both managers use their squads in the coming matches.

Manchester United Premier League form: DDWWDL
Manchester United form (all competitions): WWWDWL

Newcastle Premier League form: LDWWLW

Team News

Paul Pogba pictured during Manchester United's Premier League clash with Chelsea on August 11, 2019© Reuters

Solskjaer hinted during Sunday's post-match press conference that Pogba, having made his return off the bench, was likely to go into the XI for the clash with Newcastle.

The Norwegian could also change his left-back with Ashley Young in line to feature, while Mason Greenwood's positive cameo against Watford could earn him a start at the expense of Daniel James, who looks in need of a rest having played a lot of football this season.

Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo and Timothy Fosu-Mensah will again be unavailable for selection through injury, but United's injury list is easing, and Solskjaer will need the use of his squad during a busy period.

Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are both expected to keep their spots, though, while Fred and Scott McTominay should continue in the middle of the park despite the presence of Nemanja Matic, who was an unused substitute at Vicarage Road.

As for Newcastle, Matt Ritchie, Jamaal Lascelles, Allan Saint-Maximin, Jetro Willems and Ki Sung-yueng remain unavailable for selection, but Bruce has no fresh concerns from the win over Palace at the weekend.

Both Carroll and Joelinton started on Saturday but that it unlikely to be the case here with Sean Longstaff pushing for a spot, which could mean a new role for Almiron slightly further forward.

DeAndre Yedlin's pace could also be utilised at full-back, but the bulk of the XI is expected to remain the same with Jonjo Shelvey again wearing the captain's armband in the absence of the injured Lascelles.

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young; McTominay, Fred; Rashford, Pogba, Greenwood; Martial

Newcastle possible starting lineup:
Dubravka; Lejeune, Fernandez, Schar; Dummett, S Longstaff, Shelvey, Hayden, Yedlin; Almiron; Joelinton

Head To Head

United lead the overall head-to-head 86 wins to Newcastle's 43, but the Magpies have won two of their last four Premier League meetings, including a 1-0 victory at St James' Park earlier this season.

The Red Devils have won their last two Premier League clashes at Old Trafford, but Newcastle picked up a goalless draw at the home of the English giants in August 2015, while their last away success at the Theatre of Dreams came in December 2013 courtesy of an effort from Yohan Cabaye.

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We say: Manchester United 2-0 Newcastle

United's loss at Watford might actually be bad news for Newcastle as the hosts will be determined to return to winning ways. The Magpies have won two of their last four Premier League matches on the road, but we fancy Solskjaer's team to pick up all three points in front of their own supporters.

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