Manchester United-Newcastle United Preview
Manchester United manager David Moyes faces a dilemma over how best to shuffle his pack for the trip to Newcastle United on Saturday.
As they are currently 10 points adrift of fourth-place Arsenal with only six games to play, the Red Devils’ hopes of Champions League football next season appear to rest on success in this year’s competition.
In breezing past Aston Villa 4-1 at Old Trafford last weekend Manchester United (16-6-10) finally performed in a manner befitting reigning Premier League champions.
Moyes then made five changes to his starting line-up for Tuesday night’s visit of Bayern Munich in the Champions League, and was rewarded with a creditable 1-1 first leg draw against the holders.
The Red Devils are not without their injury concerns, most notably Wayne Rooney. On Friday, Moyes ruled out the striker for this match, and Rooney is also doubtful for the second-leg quarterfinal contest in Germany versus Bayern due to a toe injury.
Ryan Giggs, Alex Buttner and Antonio Valencia also all picked up knocks against Bayern, but there is depth enough to create a genuine battle to make the 11, particularly for the second leg in Munich.
With that in mind Moyes must now decide whether to stick with the men who held the very best in Europe at bay or reinstate those who served him so well on league duty.
Midfielder Ashley Young, who started against his old club Villa and came off the bench against Bayern, insists United have got to capitalize on this new-found feel good factor.
"We’ve got to keep the momentum going," Young told the official club website. "We want to take three points from the weekend into the second leg against Bayern and then see how things go.
"I can’t wait to go there (Munich), we’ve given ourselves a massive chance. We’re in with a great shout, and as long as we add to the performance we gave at Old Trafford, hopefully we can go through. It was a great team performance."
Newcastle United (14-4-14) need not worry about their visitors taking their eye off the ball at St. James’ Park.
The Red Devils have won five of their seven matches on the weekend directly following Champions League football this season.
The slumping Magpies have lost consecutive matches by a combined score of 7-0. A 3-0 drubbing at home by Everton was followed by a 4-0 hammering at Southampton last weekend.
Manager Alan Pardew is looking for his players to respond to that capitulation regardless of the opposition.
"Manchester United have had a little upsurge particularly with the result against Munich," Pardew told the official Premier League website. "They were terrific and they’ll bring that bounce in their step at our place.
"Obviously we’re coming off the back of a really poor result and a poor performance so you have to say that everything points to them to win this game and it’s up to us to make sure that we can turn that around."
Newcastle will be without Loic Remy (ankle), Moussa Sissoko (hamstring) Mathieu Debuchy (groin) and Tim Krul (knee). Gabriel Obertan and Ryan Taylor are out through longer-term injuries.
Manchester United are without defenders Chris Smalling, Rafael (both hamstring), Jonny Evans (calf) and forward Robin van Persie (knee).
Newcastle won at Old Trafford for the first time since 1972 last December, ending a 31-match drought there with a 1-0 victory. Yohan Cabaye scored the only goal of the game after an hour.
Pardew will again have to watch the game from the stands. The clash with the Red Devils is one of three remaining games of his seven-match ban imposed following his pitch-side clash with David Meyler in the 4-1 win at Hull City last month.