Manchester United look like a whole new team since the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The former Norwegian attacker arrived as caretaker manager, but has led The Red Devils to three consecutive wins, finishing 2018 on a strong note and putting United on the brink of fifth place. Now the Old Trafford side will aim to extend their run to four wins when they travel to St. James’ Park in order to take on a resilient Newcastle United side. This will be the first game of 2019 for both sides, and kick-off is scheduled at 20:00 BST.
Manchester United won’t have Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo available for this game, meaning the defensive line could end up being somewhat depleted, especially following the red card shown to Eric Bailly the last time out. Therefore, Solskjaer will only have two central defenders available in Phil Jones and Victor Lindelof, while Matteo Darmian will act as the back-up alternative off the bench. One player that is ready to return is Alexis Sanchez. Solskjaer confirmed the Chilean is recovered from his injury, and that he will be involved in this game.
On the other hand, Newcastle United will have some problems when it comes to their defensive depth. Federico Fernandez (hip) and Ciaran Clark (ankle) are doubts, while Florian Lejeune may not be ready in time after his lay-off. Plus, Ki Sung-yeung is absent due to his involvement with South Korea in the Asian Games, but Yoshinori Muto, who will represent Japan at the same tournament, will leave the club after this game. Jonjo Shelvey, who has historically performed at a high level against The Red Devils, is back from a thigh injury.
Manchester United seem to be turning the season around following a poor start under Jose Mourinho. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has won his first three matches as United’s manager, topping two relegation-threatened sides such as Cardiff (5-1) and Huddersfield (3-1) and then brushing away the challenge of Bournemouth (4-1). But despite the solid run of form in recent weeks (W3, D1, L1), The Red Devils remain in sixth place with only 35 points, and have a steep road ahead of themselves if they want to make a serious Top 4 push. But the team is definitively trending in the right direction of late. That looked almost impossible roughly one month ago.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have struggled of late. The Magpies have won just one of their previous seven Premier League matches (W1, D3, L3). That’s far from ideal considering their opponents’ form, and they are currently riding a three-game winless run (D2, L1). The Magpies drew 1-1 against Watford in their most recent outing, and currently sit in 15th place in the standings. Their record thus far reads: W4, D6, L10, with 18 points (15 goals scored, 27 conceded). Their attack should be cause for concern since Newcastle’s tally of 15 goals scored is the second-lowest mark in the EPL this term.
What is our recent record against Newcastle United?
Manchester United’s supremacy against Newcastle is quite noticeable. The Reds have lost just three of their last 32 matches against Newcastle in all competitions (W22, D7, L3). In total, these two sides have met 166 times in the past, and United own a 51.2% winning record thanks to his 85 wins. There have also been 39 draws and 42 wins for The Magpies.
Manchester United are on the rise, while Newcastle have struggled badly during the current season. That should be enough to give The Red Devils entering this game. Barring anything spectacular, they look set to extend their winning streak to four matches.