Manchester United v Newcastle United

December 6, 2013 2:17 PM

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Manchester United v Newcastle United

Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney is suspended after being booked for the fifth time this season in Wednesday's defeat by Everton.

Phil Jones is available after a ban, but Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie are doubts because of respective illness and injury.

Newcastle forward Papiss Cisse faces a fitness test on the heel injury which ruled him out of the defeat by Swansea.

Until Wednesday, Everton hadn't won away to Manchester United since 1992 - so even without the David Moyes against his old club scenario, it was a pretty big deal.

Let's face it - every United home defeat is, and we COULD be dealing with something even bigger this time.

Newcastle haven't beaten United at Old Trafford since 1972, when goals from John Tudor and Stewart Barrowclough gave the Magpies their one and only success since 1950. That's one win in 48 games spanning 63 years.

"By the looks of things, with Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool all in decent form, Manchester United face a big fight just to get into the top four and clearly lots of work needs to be done to improve their squad.

"David Moyes will not be helped by having Wayne Rooney suspended for this game after he picked up his fifth booking of the season against Everton. He will be hoping that Robin van Persie will be fit, but that situation is worrying too."

Over those years they've generally had a good go in vain, with last season's Premier League visit a prime example. Three times Newcastle led, only to be beaten 4-3. They'll just have to take the lead once this time to make the home regulars restless.

They've seen their side drop 10 points at home already this season - one more than went begging in the whole of last term - and whilst nobody could credibly suggest that United are experiencing a clichéd 'crisis', they can ill-afford to drop many more if they're to challenge for a top four place, let alone the title.

The last time they had as few points after 14 games was in 2001-02 when they went on to finish third.

Currently as close to the bottom three as they are to Arsenal at the top, Moyes might even take third if offered it now, having admitted that his side "will have to play some great football and win an awful lot of games in the run-in".

After four successive wins, Newcastle suffered their own setback at Swansea on Wednesday, but that won't stop Alan Pardew from thinking - like many other managers - that this is the season to go to Old Trafford undaunted.

Teams have a prayer there now, with Manchester United fans perhaps offering a few up to the 'man upstairs'. That's Sir Alex Ferguson, for the avoidance of doubt.


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