After a weekend in which we picked up our second win of the year, and Carver’s first at home, today we welcome Manchester United to St James’ Park for our tenth match of 2015. A depleted Newcastle squad on the brink of turning to free agents, following injuries to areas of the squad already weakened by questionable loan deals and a lack of positive transfer activity, is unlikely to come out of this one with three points, the failure to do so would put Carver the Brave’s win rate at 20%.
In our last six matches we have won, drawn, and lost twice each, the most recent game a 1-0 home win over Aston Villa, which thanks to other results going our way has opened a five point gap over the rest of the bottom half, with a game in hand an potential to go eight clear with a win today. Stoke City, West Ham, and the top half are currently four points above us and both have matches that run concurrently with ours tonight.
The visitors come into this match in good form, taking four wins, one draw, and one loss from their previous six league games, most recently beating Sunderland 2-0 at Old Trafford. They sit fourth in the table, with a point and a game over fifth place Southampton, and potential to leapfrog Arsenal into third, should they better the Gunners’ result tonight. Despite their impressive points haul recently, the Manchester side have struggled on the road recently, winning just one of their last six away games, although they have also only lost once in the same span of games.
The reverse fixture was an insipid 3-1 loss in which Pardew elected to play hoofball to two strikers with an average height of 5’9”, earning him the second lowest TFI rating he would have at the club, and on the site of his best performance a year prior.
After a brief respite in which the club did nothing to alleviate future issues, for example by strengthening the squad, and instead saw fit to loan out another first team defender, our injury crisis is back with a vengeance. Massadio Haïdara is the latest casualty, joining Rolando Aarons, Rémy Cabella, Paul Dummett, Rob Elliott, Siem de Jong, Steven Taylor, and Cheick Tioté in the treatment room.
Jack Colback serves the second game of a two match suspension earned for accumulating ten, mostly needless, yellow cards. Jonás Gutiérrez was an unused substitute at the weekend, and will likely put in another bench-warming performance tonight. Ayoze Pérez, who was the sole positive in the reverse fixture, was rested at the weekend and may return to the first team for this one.
The above is what I’d expect Carver to go with. After his self-proclaimed braveness in playing two wingers and two out-and-out strikers against Villa, I don’t see him repeating his heroics against a side that has scored more than three times as many goals this season.
That’s what I think I’d play, we’ve little to lose so might as well go for it, and from what I can tell three in the middle has been a key factor in defeating Manchester United this season. It’s a tough choice whether to go with Anita or Ryan Taylor at left-back, but I chose the former as I feel his mobility will be put to more use there, while Taylor can play his inch-perfect Bartonesque balls from deep on the right of midfield.
Rooney and Mata will do what they always do against Newcastle. We’ll get torn to pieces and, after a couple of goals conceded in the first half, completely fall apart. Cissé will get a consolation from nowhere. 1-4 to the wrong United.
Where to Watch/Listen
The match is televised live on BT Sport 1, with coverage allegedly starting at 7:00pm. Tickets are on sale from the matchday box office until kick-off, but are only available to paid members, prices start at an unreasonable £42 for adults, £34 seniors, £25 students & 18-21s, and £21 for under-18s. Local commentary, as always, is on BBC Newcastle, with talkSPORT covering the game nationally and overseas.
How do you think we’ll get on in this game? Have your say in our discussion thread.
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