Preview: Newcastle United vs. Manchester United

Sports Mole previews the clash between hosting Newcastle and Manchester United, as the Magpies go in search of a first league double over the Red Devils since 1931.

Newcastle United have the opportunity to record a first league double over Manchester United since 1931 when the two teams meet at St James' Park on Saturday.

The Magpies won 1-0 at Old Trafford in December in the first of consecutive home defeats for David Moyes and even darker times have followed for the United boss.

However, a spirited draw against European kings Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday proved that the Red Devils can still mix it with the best on their day.

United fans will tell you that their day has not come around very often this season and that is why they are only eight points above Newcastle, compared to 41 as they were at the same stage last term.

Moyes can put to bed any fears that the Tyneside outfit could yet leapfrog his side in the table with victory this weekend, although some players may be rested ahead of the huge trip to Germany on Wednesday.

Juan Mata, who scored his first United goal in the 4-1 success over Aston Villa, is ineligible for continental competition so should be recalled, and Patrice Evra is available after serving a European suspension.

Ryan Giggs is likely to be saved for Munich and so too could Danny Welbeck and Antonio Valencia, whose pace will give the English champions a counter-attacking threat at the Allianz Arena.

Injuries to Rafael, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Alexander Buttner may force Moyes to use Michael Carrick as a makeshift centre-back should he choose to give Rio Ferdinand a break against Newcastle.

With Robin van Persie sidelined, Wayne Rooney will continue as the main striker. Darren Fletcher, Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young and Adnan Januzaj could all be restored in a much-changed midfield.

Newcastle will be without Loic Remy and Mathieu Debuchy for another week, while Moussa Sissoko and Tim Krul could miss a further fortnight due to hamstring and knee problems respectively.

Second-choice goalkeeper Rob Elliot put in a fine display last weekend despite conceding four in the heavy defeat to Southampton, which may prompt manager Alan Pardew into defensive changes.

The 52-year-old, who is serving game five of his seven-match touchline ban, could drop Massadio Haidara and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and recall Davide Santon and Paul Dummett at full-back.

Yoan Gouffran is likely to be asked to drop back into a midfield three to compensate for Sissoko's absence, with Hatem Ben Arfa playing in behind Papiss Cisse and the still-goalless Luuk de Jong.

Recent form

Newcastle: LLWLWW

Man United: DWLWWL

Possible starting lineups

Newcastle: Elliot; Santon, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett; Tiote, Anita, Gouffran; Ben Arfa; De Jong, Cisse

United: De Gea; Jones, Vidic, Carrick, Evra; Young, Cleverley, Fletcher, Januzaj; Mata; Rooney

Sports Mole says: 1-2

Jay Rodriguez of Southampton is congratulated by Adam Lallana of Southampton after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match against Tottenham on March 23, 2014
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City24212170185265
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd24165349163353
3Chelsea24155445162950
4Liverpool23138254282647
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs23135546212544
6Arsenal24126645311442
7Leicester CityLeicester249783632434
8Burnley249781921-234
9Everton2477102639-1328
10Watford2475123344-1126
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham2468103042-1226
12Bournemouth2467112536-1125
13Crystal Palace2467112237-1525
14Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2466121941-2224
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2465132234-1223
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2458111733-1623
17Stoke CityStoke2465132550-2523
18Southampton2349102334-1121
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom24311101931-1220
20Swansea CitySwansea2345141435-2117
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