Newcastle United vs Manchester United Preview

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Manchester United travel North this weekend to face Newcastle United at St James Park Stadium in a fixture which has had such importance in the title races in the late 1990s and early 2000s but has declined in importance as the years have gone by with Newcastle's descent to the relegation struggles of late. However this fixture provides much more importance at this point in the season with Manchester United hoping to maintain at least a five point gap from Liverpool after Jose Mourinho conceded the title to Manchester City after a defeat to Tottenham. Newcastle however will need any points from this game in order to keep themselves out of the relegation mire in which nine Premier League teams are stuck in with a seven point difference from 12th to 20th. 

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Image result for ibrahimovic 2018 bristolJose Mourinho has said in his pre-match press conference that only Daley Blind and Eric Bailly are sidelined with injuries and Zlatan Ibrahimovic has returned to training but is unlikely to make the bench yet amid speculation of the Swede leaving the Red Devils for America soon. The gaffer has also praised Luke Shaw as fulfilling his potential whilst competing for the wing-back role with Ashley Young and is tipped to start over the former Villa winger in the hope of getting back into the England squad for the friendlies at the end of March. 

Juan Mata is also likely to start after an excellent performance against Huddersfield in which the Spaniard's first time cross was hammered in by Lukaku for his twelfth Premier League goal of the season and so will Alexis Sanchez who scored his first goal for Manchester United and looked dangerous throughout the game. Paul Pogba is also likely to feature in the first XI after being dropped for the home fixture against Huddersfield. Jose Mourinho has come out and said that the French midfielder is a box-to-box midfielder who has defensive responsibilities as well as turning the defense into attack and must remember that he has to work hard to defend and attack as well.

With Newcastle's lack of form and a natural goalscorer with Mitrovic being sent out on loan, Joselu's on and off form and Dwight Gayle's Premier League struggles, Islam Slimani may be the Toon's salvation and Rafa Benitez has also claimed that the Algerian may start on Sunday against the Red Devils and may provide the centre backs with a handful with his strength and aerial prowess. This may prove to be a tight win for Manchester United but the 'efficient' United side (as described by Paul Merson) should have no problem getting past this Newcastle side and ought to get another three points on the road.

Predicted Lineup: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Rojo, Shaw, Pogba, Matic, Mata, Alexis, Lingard, Lukaku


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