Sir Alex Ferguson moved to deflect attention away from Manchester United’s lacklustre draw away at Swansea and will be expecting an immediate improvement against Newcastle on Boxing Day. Five wins from their last six has forged a four point lead at the top of the Premier League table and Ferguson will be confident of maintaining that advantage against Newcastle who haven’t won at Old Trafford since February 1972.
The Magpies have struggled for consistency this season, failing to hit the same notes that earned them European football last term. Alan Pardew has been forced to contend with a crippling injury and will be without several first team regulars for the trip to the Theatre of Dreams. Saturday’s victory over QPR was only their second in nine games and Pardew will look to capitalise on that morale boost as he attempts to guide his players to an unlikely success.
Javier Hernandez, Darren Fletcher and Danny Welbeck could feature but Rafael (thigh) must prove his fitness.
Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye and Steven Taylor are still sidelined for Newcastle who must also do without the suspended Cheick Tiote.
What the managers said…
“I reckon here at Manchester United we got our Christmas present early – right at the start of the season in fact, when Robin van Persie arrived at Old Trafford. I am reluctant to subscribe to the cult of an individual because I firmly believe that the essence of a successful football team depends on team-work, and neither are we a one-man team, but sometimes there really is a situation where you are lucky enough to find the last piece of the jigsaw.” Sir Alex Ferguson hails the impact of Robin Van Persie (Man Utd official website)
When you looked at the programme at the start, you could see that this was a tough run for us, and it’s even tougher now with the results we have had and the injuries we have sustained. But I am actually going into it more buoyed than I have been at probably any other period of the season. We have definitely picked up, we look a little bit more resilient. We got a very important clean sheet on Saturday and I think we will be in good heart for what is one of the toughest games of the programme, Manchester United away.” Alan Pardew expects a tough test at Old Trafford (Daily Mirror)
United have won 17 of their last 20 Boxing Day victories and should be celebrating another against Newcastle who haven’t won at Old Trafford in 40 years.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Newcastle United
Check the odds ahead of the game at Old Trafford with William Hill here
You can also Get a Free £25 Bet on the game by clicking here