Life at Manchester United continues to be an existence full of conjecture and drama, and as Newcastle United arrive at Old Trafford for Saturday’s Premier League clash the Red Devils are in serious need of a morale-boosting victory ahead of the international break.
With Jose Mourinho’s job seemingly in jeopardy and further rumours as to the nature of relationships between him and the playing group rearing their ugly heads of late, the two-week gaps between the Magpies’ visit and the trip to Chelsea may well give the board of directors time to make huge changes if they again fail to pick up three points on Saturday.
United have gone four games without a win and have failed to take maximum points from the last four at Old Trafford too, the first time in Mourinho’s career that he has overseen a quarter of home fixtures without a victory.
There is little his old adversary Rafa Benitez would enjoy more than rubbing salt in those wounds by guiding Newcastle to a first league win of the season.
Man Utd Injuries
Besides long-term absentee Marcos Rojo, Ander Herrera and Jesse Lingard also missed the 0-0 draw with Valencia in midweek as a result of injuries – although Herrera at least could be back in the reckoning for the Newcastle fixture.
Lingard has been carrying a slight groin issue since his participation in last summer’s World Cup, and he has been left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the forthcoming Nations League ties against Croatia and Spain as a result.
Man Utd Suspensions
United return to a full complement of eligible players after Sergio Romero served his one-match ban for a red card against Wolves by missing the trip to West Ham.
With Marcus Rashford and Nemanja Matic having also returned from red-card suspensions lately, United have no other absentees.
Man Utd Starting Line-Up
Mourinho could go with a relatively similar lineup to the one which worked hard but ultimately came away with only a point against Valencia.
Having experimented with Scott McTominay in a back three and changing to a two-man attack for the trip to West Ham, United were back in a 4-3-3 shape on Tuesday and similar is likely on Saturday.
The manager may have to choose between the extra protection offered effectively by Marouane Fellaini of late and the more dynamic presence of Fred in the midfield three, while Alexis Sanchez will again be fighting for a starting berth following another unproductive outing against Valencia.
At the back, there could be a Premier League debut for Diogo Dalot as Mourinho looks to limit Antonio Valencia’s involvement at the age of 33 and with a lengthy injury history under his belt.
Newcastle Team News
Newcastle continue to desperately search for their first victory of the season having picked up only two points from their first seven games.
They have had a tough early run, however, having already been pitted against Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal. Following their visit to Old Trafford on Saturday, they will not come up against another club from last season’s top six until taking on Liverpool on Boxing Day, giving them an 11-week window during which they will be hoping for a much-improved run of results against more manageable opposition.
Rafa Benitez has so far failed to get the level of performances from his players which they were able to deliver in a positive 2017-18 season. Their 10th-placed finish had many expecting them to punch above their weight again this term, but aside from the odd flashes from the likes of Joselu and Matt Ritchie, there has been little to shout about on Tyneside. Indeed, Kenedy’s penalty miss in the draw with Cardiff City was the best chance they have had to secure a win at this point.
TV Channel & Kick-off time
The match at Old Trafford kicks off at 17:30 BST on Saturday, with live coverage available in the UK on BT Sport 1 from 17:00. In the U.S. the game will be shown on NBCSN at 12:30am ET.
Best Opta Match facts
In all competitions, Manchester United have lost one of their last 36 home matches against Newcastle United (W26 D9), a 1-0 reverse under David Moyes in December 2013.
Newcastle, who won 1-0 against Man Utd in February, haven’t won back to back league matches against the Red Devils since October 1972.
Newcastle have won just two of their 42 away matches in Manchester in the Premier League (D12 L28), winning 1-0 at Man City in September 2000 and 1-0 at Man Utd in December 2013.
Newcastle are winless in their seven Premier League games this season – only in 1898-99 (first 10) and 2015-16 (first 8) have they gone longer without a win from the start of a top-flight campaign.
Manchester United have just 10 points from seven Premier League games this season – they last had fewer at this stage of a top-flight season back in 1989-90 (7 points).
Manchester United have conceded 12 goals in their seven Premier League games this season – it took them 18 games to concede the same amount in 2017-18.
Man Utd striker Romelu Lukaku has had a hand in 10 goals in 10 Premier League appearances against Newcastle (6 goals, 4 assists) and scored in this exact fixture last season.
Jose Mourinho has won all seven of his home matches against Newcastle in all competitions, seeing his sides score 18 times while conceding just once.
Rafael Benitez has won six of his last nine matches against Manchester United in all competitions (D1 L2), including two wins at Old Trafford in that time (4-1 in March 2009 with Liverpool, 1-0 in May 2013 with Chelsea).