Newcastle United v Manchester United
The Analyst takes a look at the midweek key fixture between Newcastle and Manchester United.
Perhaps just a distant memory now, but almost two decades ago, Newcastle were veritable Premier League contenders and Manchester United were the only force to consistently better them at the final hurdles. That was 1996. Recently, things haven’t been quite so ambitious for the Toon, while United have endured their own struggles in the nearly two years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
Both teams are very much in a state of flux, with United not quite achieving the sum of their parts under Louis van Gaal, while John Carver’s own United varies wildly in terms of quality of performance and consistency from week to week.
The side from Manchester has dominated the recent encounters – standing up as victors in five of the last six meetings in all competitions. However, their away form this season means they cannot afford to take this fixture lightly.
Manchester United 3-1 Newcastle
05/04/14: Newcastle United 0-4 Manchester United
07/12/13: Manchester United 0-1 Newcastle United
Newcastle United – LWDDLW
Manchester United – WWDWLW
Papiss Cisse v Wayne Rooney
Papiss Cisse’s impact was sorely missed during his departure to the Africa Cup of Nations, showing that Newcastle do not possess a natural finisher in the absence of the man from Senegal. With 11 goals in 18 appearances, this season – 9 of which were starts – and a conversion rate of 31% to match, the Newcastle number nine stands as the most efficient and potent goalscorer in the league, this season.
That only Costa, Kane, Aguero, Austin and Sanchez better him for goals, – all of whom have spent considerably more time on the pitch, says it all – Cisse is the bona fide poacher in the Premier League. However, it will be tough for him with creative forces Cabella and Colback ruled out of the game through injury and suspension. The responsibility will rest upon young guns Perez and Ameobi, along with rampaging fullback Daryl Janmaat to tee him up.
Speaking of natural goalscorers, Wayne Rooney’s reinstatement to the forward line in Gameweek 27 paid dividends with his first two goals of 2015. With van Persie still out injured, the England captain cannot be overlooked up top for this clash.
Not only does Rooney relish games against these particular opponents – scoring two and nabbing an assist in their last encounter – but Newcastle’s defensive disorganisation looks ripe for someone like Rooney to
capitalise and deliver a much needed boost to the flagging confidence of his likely strike partner – Radamel Falcao.
Daryl Janmaat v Daley Blind
Two Dutch international teammates and recent imports to England, Daryl Janmaat and Daley Blind have had solid introductions to life in the Premier Leage fast lane this season. Operating at right-back, Janmaat has arguably been the Magpies’ most consistent performer, and in PlayON terms at least, one of their highest points earners.
Newcastle haven’t been especially solid at the back this season – with 42 conceded, they carry the third worst defensive record in the league – but it’s Janmaat’s constant supply line of crosses and assists that makes him
such an attractive prospect.
Clocking six assists and a goal in the league the Dutchman is a no doubt a threat from the flanks. With two man of the match performances in his last three games, now could be the time to take the gamble.
In terms of consistency and a steady stream of PlayON points, one needn’t go further than Daley Blind as a midfield safe option. The Dutch defensive midfielder regularly scores upwards of 1,000 points on a weekly basis, with his tackles and interceptions providing the bread and butter of his tally. That said, the World Cup star isn’t averse to goalscoring either, notably grabbing the vital equalizer at West Ham in Gameweek 24 to make it three in total for the season.
With 16 goals scored in the last four meetings between these two sides, goals are a certainty here. With neither defence capable of consistency we can expect a good day out for the forwards, Rooney in particular.