MX23RW : Wednesday, July 28 23:06:57| >> :60:1728:1728:
Oct 6, 2019 at 4.30pm UK at St James' Park
Attendance: 51,198
NewcastleNewcastle United
Man UtdManchester United
Longstaff (72')
FT(HT: 0-0)

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

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview ahead of Newcastle United's meeting with Manchester United in the Premier League.

Newcastle United and Manchester United meet in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon with both teams in serious need of a confidence boost.

Steve Bruce's side are without a win since August and were thrashed 5-0 by Leicester City last time out, while United have only managed two wins from their last 12 league games.

Newcastle United

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce gestures on September 21, 2019© Reuters

The appointment of Bruce, formerly of Sunderland, to the managerial position on Tyneside left many supporters with a bitter taste, and a solitary victory from seven Premier League fixtures has only added to a wider sense of displeasure among the Newcastle faithful at the current state of their club.

For some time, supporters have slammed owner Mike Ashley for failing to back up his continual promises of proper investment with concomitant action, as many grow wearisome of the club - once a force in Europe - now settling for transfer targets normally reserved for teams battling relegation.

It is not necessarily the amount of investment which has irked supporters but rather the remarkably low success rate of transfers done by the club since the days of Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba. There have simply been too many ostensibly good signings - Joselu, Florian Thauvin, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Siem de Jong are just a few examples - who have joined and left the club without making any tangible impact.

Indeed, this schism between owners and club ultimately prompted the popular Rafael Benitez to leave over the summer, with the Spaniard, having comfortably guided Newcastle to 44 and 45 points in successive seasons, resigning from his position after failing to agree fresh terms with the club - or, in other words, an agreement on a long-term plan going forward.

Despite spending a combined total of £56m on attacking duo Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin over the summer, Newcastle's performances have been reflective of a team suffering from something of an identity crisis, seemingly unsure of what blueprint they are meant to pursue in the wake of Benitez's departure.

Of course, it is by no means all doom and gloom, with Newcastle's last victory, a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, serving as an example of how the Magpies, regardless of who sits in the dugout, are capable of producing performances hallmarked by high intensity and acute organisation.

Over 38 games, however, that ability alone is not enough to keep you above water in the Premier League, especially when that solidity deserts you and gives way to dysfunction against teams moving the ball with greater pace and quality, as seen by the way Newcastle allowed themselves to capitulate at Leicester last weekend.

Currently sitting 19th in the table, Newcastle have the feeling of a team devoid of an X-factor, lacking a vital foundation of core strength and direction like that of Sean Dyche's Burnley side - a problem which, if left unaddressed, usually culminates in teams heading inexorably towards relegation.

Perhaps a crowd-lifting win over United on Sunday could provide some impetus for a club currently in stasis after seven league games.

Recent form: LWDLDL
Recent form (all competitions): WLDLDL

Manchester United

Marcus Rashford in action for Manchester United on September 19, 2019© Reuters

In a way, the contemporary tales of Newcastle and United mirror each other quite nicely: a maligned owner, a failing transfer policy, an inept squad, no clear style of play, and no prospect of the club reaching a solution to those problems any time soon.

While Ashley has often been accused of trying to play too much of a shaping role at Newcastle, the owning Glazer family at Old Trafford can be seen as doing the opposite - taking an interest in share prices whilst leaving the actual management of the club to a directorship spearheaded by Ed Woodward, whose success in the marketing side of affairs has been overshadowed by a total failure in planning a coherent footballing strategy.

As United head to St James' Park, there is a growing consensus among its supporters that the side's toothless, idle performances this season are a consequence of not just tactics but indeed emblematic of a wider rotten culture at the Theatre of Dreams which feels technocratic, faceless and concerned only with short-term results as opposed to long-term potential.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, appointed back in March amid a wave of optimism, therefore has the seemingly impossible task of building a team for the future at a club whose management structure does not appear to look further than the next annual investors conference, but the 46-year-old is nonetheless doing what he can.

The arrivals of Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James, combined with the Norwegian's championing of academy products such as Axel Tuanzebe, Mason Greenwood, Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and Brandon Williams, demonstrates that Solskjaer does at least want to build a squad which can grow as a collective over several years.

However, Solskjaer's current reliance on a mixture of youngsters and expensive signings who are past their best has culminated in an almost total ossification going forward, with United's 4-0 win over Chelsea serving as the only time in 13 outings that they scored more than one goal in a game, casting serious questions over the club's decision to dispense with and fail to replace attacking duo Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez over the summer.

Perhaps more concerning for United is that, having won all of Solskjaer's first nine away outings after Jose Mourinho was removed, the Red Devils are without a victory on the road in 10 games across all competitions, with that 3-1 win in Paris serving as the club's last success away from home, underscoring the notion that these players are suffering on both a technical and mental level.

While United's tactical problems - not to mention the supervenient structural malaise infecting the club's very identity - are not likely to be solved any time soon, a victory at St James' Park would at least restore some psychological belief ahead of a testing series of fixtures following the international break.

Recent form: DLDWLD
Recent form (all competitions): WWLWDD

Team News

Paul Pogba in action for Manchester United on September 25, 2019© Reuters

Jonjo Shelvey and Jetro Willems are both expected to return for this game, with the former set to step in for the suspended Isaac Hayden, although Dwight Gayle is a major doubt.

Matt Ritchie, who scored the winning goal against United in February 2018, will not return until after the international break, while Florian Lejeune is not expected to recover from a knee problem until November.

Solskjaer confirmed on Friday that he would not risk Paul Pogba, who has a foot problem, until after the international break, adding that Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Phil Jones would also not come back until then.

Jesse Lingard is almost certainly out as well having picked up a hamstring injury during the 0-0 draw with AZ Alkmaar, although Aaron Wan-Bissaka should come back into the starting XI. Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are the two long-term absentees.

Newcastle United possible starting lineup:
Dubravka; Dummett, Schar, Lascelles, Yedlin; Longstaff, Shelvey; Almiron, Atsu, Muto; Joelinton

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Young; McTominay, Matic; Pereira, Mata, James; Rashford

Head To Head

Since the 1990s, when Newcastle and United did battle for the Premier League title, this fixture has been almost completely dominated by the Red Devils, who enjoyed an unbeaten run against the Geordies between 2001 and 2012.

The corresponding fixture last season coincided with United's excellent run of form immediately after Solskjaer's appointment, with goals from Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford sealing a 2-0 win and a fifth straight victory for the new boss.

That said, Newcastle will take inspiration from the aforementioned 1-0 win during the 2017-18 campaign, which saw the hosts effectively sit behind the ball before snatching the lead through a set-piece - something they will no doubt look to do again on Sunday.

Moreover, an entertaining 3-2 win for United over Newcastle at Old Trafford in October of last year, with the visitors taking a 2-0 lead inside 10 minutes, was an example of how the latter are capable of causing problems against a side whose confidence is especially fragile at this moment in time.

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We say: Newcastle United 0-0 Manchester United

United seem unable to gather enough impetus to generate a dangerous attack, let alone the constant stream of fast patterns necessary to penetrate Newcastle's low block, while the latter is also painfully bereft of goals at the moment. The lack of confidence and quality on both sides renders a goalless draw - which the hosts will gladly take - the most likely outcome.

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Newcastle United's Isaac Hayden on July 24, 2018
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