By 90Min
November 17, 2017

With Rafa Benitez taking his Newcastle side to Manchester to face a United side that has only lost once in their last 32 matches against Saturday's visitors, Benitez's team will likely face an uphill battle at Old Trafford.

But there is actually a personal rose tint to the contest for Benitez, with the record of becoming the only man to win three away matches at Old Trafford with three different clubs - previously won here with Liverpool and Chelsea.

But it is hard to look past the facts at the moment, with the Red Devils not conceding in their last six at home and more than able to find the net it will need to be a tactical masterclass for the Magpies to overcome the men in red.

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With inconsistency striking at the moment, and having lost their previous two - both 1-0 to Bournemouth and Burnley - the Magpies will be especially eager to upset the United apple-cart and claim an unlikely point or three on the road.

But with Jose Mourinho understanding the importance of keeping pace with a frankly rampant Manchester City side, winning matches against promoted sides such as Newcastle are crucial to not sliding into further deficit beyond the eight points dropped behind City.


Classic Encounter

On a frantic day back in November of the 2002/03 season, these two sides met in what was a lively and back-and-forth encounter, with plenty of goals to show for their efforts.

Man Utd historically taking the edge in wins against the Magpies, 83 wins to Newcastle's 41 - and 39 draws between them - it was another of those days for the travelling Magpies faithful with Sir Alex Ferguson's united netting 5 in their 5-3 win over the travelers.

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Despite Ruud van Nistelrooy grabbing a hat-trick on the day, there was good news for Newcastle fans, club legend Alan Shearer got himself on the score-sheet, becoming the first man to score 100 goals for two different Premier League clubs - the first being Blackburn.

Other goals on the day came from Paul Scholes, Olivier Bernard, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Craig Bellamy.


Form

The Red Devils form at home is hard to question under Mourinho, with results telling a comforting story to United fans, having not conceded a goal at home so far this campaign and having not lost at the Theatre of Dreams since September 2016.

Meanwhile Newcastle have sat on a rocky road since since their return to the promised land, having lost their last two - the disappointing late 1-0 loss to Bournemouth at home being the latest before international break - Benitez will be hoping that his side can show some resilience on Saturday evening.

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Mourinho's men faced their own disappointment before the break at the hands of Chelsea and Alvaro Morata, the side will be eager to right the wrongs after the below-par game on the road.

The Magpies have an issue when it comes to scoring goals so far this season, with captain Jamaal Lascelles and striker Joselu level  top scorers - both with two goals - and with four goals in their last six, resulting in only one win, they need to boost their goal-scoring chances should they be dealing any damage to Mourinho's side.


Team News 

Good news for Red Devils fans is that despite having limped off against Germany while on England duty Phil Jones should be fit and ready to come back into the first team bar a late fitness test.

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Midfield man Marouane Fellaini will also be likely to return to first team action, having returned from a three-week layoff in the match against Chelsea as a substitute two weeks ago.

Michael Carrick is rumoured to be closer to match fitness, but seems unlikely to feature in the side at Old Trafford. Centre-back Marcos Rojo (ACL) could be set to mark a return to the bench for United, Rojo having played 45 minutes for United's under-23's midweek.

Meanwhile striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is fit to return to action after his long-term ACL set-back too, with a place on the bench most likely and strong competition for Belgium forward Lukaku.

There's a similar case for midfielder Paul Pogba(Hamstring) whom after two months out is set to return to the lineup having passed a late fitness test on Friday.

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Lascelles should be safe to remain in the starting lineup but the Newcastle skipper will face a late fitness test of his own on an ankle injury.

Benitez will still be without the likes of full-back Paul Dummett (hamstring) and midfielder Mikel Merino who has missed the sides last two defeats with a back injury picked up back in October.

But beyond the two sidelined players, and a late fitness test for the skipper, Newcastle should be looking at a near full-strength side to take to Manchester.


Prediction 

When the statistics are pulled together, Newcastle's lack of goals but stubborn defence, United's 23 goals, seven courtesy of Romelu Lukaku - who enjoys scoring against Newcastle, with nine in eight appearances - and clean-sheets galore for the united back-line, makes it hard to see anything other than a win for Mourinho's men.

Man Utd already sit eight points adrift of rivals City, they will need to pick up expected results against the likes of Newcastle with relative ease to continue a title push.  

Of course on the day you can never really tell what may happen, but it would certainly throw a spanner into Mourinho's plans should Benitez be able to pull one over on an old rival once more.

Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 Newcastle United

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