Wayne Rooney is out of the clash between Manchester United and Newcastle United with a toe injury
Manchester United travel to Newcastle United hoping to avenge the 1-0 defeat at the start of December last year. United go into the match ahead of the 2nd leg clash with Bayern Munich on Wednesday and David Moyes will surely rest a number of players if the club has any chance to progress into the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Newcastle have only won one of the last four games since Alan Pardew’s infamous head butt incident in the 4-1 victory over Hull City. The Newcastle boss will again be in the stands for the visit of Manchester United today. United last lost to Newcastle at the ‘Sports Direct Arena’ at the start of 2012, when Demba Ba gave United a torrid time in the 3-0 defeat.
As mentioned, Wayne Rooney will miss the trip with a badly injured toe, whilst United are still missing Robin van Persie, who is still recovering from the knock he picked up in the 3-0 victory over Olympiakos. Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling are back in training and are available for selection. Juan Mata, who is obviously ineligible on Wednesday, will surely start off of Danny Welbeck.
For the home side, Moussa Sissoko joins Tim Krul, Mathieu Debuchy and Loic Remy on the treatment table, having picked up a thigh strain.
We have a great view from the opposition for you today, as we caught up with Ben Dancer who answered all things on head butts, Alan Shearer and losing Cabaye. You can follow life long Newcastle fan Ben on Twitter @bendancer.
1) How would you sum up Newcastle’s season? Happy with progress?
Just another season of utter turbulence. At moments we’ve played brilliant passing football which has been a pleasant change from some of the abhorrent long ball stuff we were playing last year, yet those moments have been few and far between. Despite a top half finish, when you lose your best player and you end the season ‘experimenting’ with youth players in the expectation of a mass exodus, I’m not sure one can call that progress. It’s hard to see how this situation will ever change unless Mike Ashley lays out what his ambitions are for the club instead of treating it like a pet shop.
2) How much of a blow was it to lose Cabaye to PSG? How much has your creative play been lost?
Losing Cabaye was a blow, an expected blow, but most disappointingly was our inability to bring anybody in to attempt to fill the hole. Not only had we lost creativity and character in the middle of the park but heads were down and we lost our spark. Cheik Tiote has had a fairly strong season in my opinion and has come on leaps and bounds as a player, but Vernon Anita isn’t a Premier League centre midfielder.
3) What did you make of the Alan Pardew head butt incident and was it sufficient punishment for your gaffer?
Against the grain, I actually like Alan Pardew and appreciate what he’s trying to achieve with the style of football we’re playing. It’s just a shame that we’re missing players in key areas to finish the job, particularly in the final third. I think the Geordie faithful will always respect a manager who sticks up for the players in a moment of passion, but he did overstep the mark here. I think the punishment has definitely been sufficient and quite an entertaining watch at times (John Carver ordering a chinese from the technical area).
4) Who has been the best and worst players for you this season?
This is quite tough as we’ve been inconsistent right across the park. Moussa Sissoko has had a good season with 3 goals and 5 assists in 35 appearances. Mbiwa doesn’t look up to scratch and his decision making has been very poor at the back. I’ve been disappointed by Ben Arfa again; a player who oozes class and the potential to change a game. But his inability to track back and lack of team ethic have cost him a place in the starting line up. Pardew will continue to work at it, and I hope he stays in the Summer but it’s been frustrating to watch as his potential is seemingly unrealised week in, week out.
5) What have you made of a United under Moyes since your 1-0 victory last December?
I live with two United fans who remain unconvinced by Moyes. I understand that they haven’t got the best squad but the football they’ve been playing at times has been substandard and key players aren’t turning up. Maybe it’s a confidence thing. Who knows, beating Bayern away on Wednesday could be a huge turning point.
6) Can United go through against Bayern Munich on Wednesday? What’s your prediction for that game?
I don’t think they’ll be able to keep Bayern out but I’d like to see them pull through on penalties maybe, at a stretch, you never know.
7) How would you rate your top five Newcastle players of all time?
From my experience:
1) Alan Shearer
2) Shay Given
3) David Ginola
4) Peter Beardsley
5) Les Ferdinand
8) Who have you been linked to in the summer and what areas do you need to strengthen in?
We need to strengthen in all departments unfortunately, but primarily up tops which will be difficult with the lack of promised European football next season. Lately, we’ve been linked with Serge Aurier, a 21yr old defender from Toulouse and Joel Campbell, a 21yr old Costa Rican International forward.
9) You have let in 7 goals in your last two games; how confident are you ahead of United’s visit?
If you’d asked me this after Crystal Palace, or even our drubbing from Everton my answer may have been very different. But last week against Southampton was one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen from a Newcastle outfit. There was no motivation, no quality, no cohesion, nothing. It should have been 7 or 8-0 by half time had it not been for Robbie Elliot playing one of the matches of his life. It appears the players have decided we have nothing left to play for and Pardew is experimenting. United on the other hand have everything to prove. I’m usually much more positive but there is little to hold on to here, and so despite United’s problems I could see it being a 3 or 4-0 home loss for the lads I’m afraid.