A rejuvenated Manchester United side travel to St James' Park to take on Newcastle on Wednesday, as the Red Devils look to continue their upturn in fortune since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager.
Since taking over at Old Trafford, the 'baby-faced assassin' has guided United to three successive wins, and has seemingly thrown off the shackles of what was a passive side under former boss Jose Mourinho.
With the Magpies winless in their last three games, Solskjaer will no doubt fancy adding to his impressive managerial start at United with another victory.
Check out 90min's preview for the mid-week Premier League game below.
How to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Wednesday 2 January|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||20:00 (GMT)|
|Where Is it Played?||St James' Park|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Premier League|
For Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez, the biggest worry heading into Wednesday night will be the fitness of centre-back Federico Fernandez. The former Swansea defender appeared to pick up a back injury in the draw against Watford, and it remains unclear whether he will be passed fit to face United.
In more positive news for the Magpies, influential midfielder Jonjo Shelvey made his return from injury as a second-half substitute at the weekend and is in line to go straight back into Benitez's first team. Brazilian winger Kenedy was left out of the squad at Vicarage Road, but may also find himself back in the first-team fold.
With Eric Bailly receiving a straight red against Bournemouth, United manager Solskjaer will be without his in-form Ivorian defender for the next three games. With Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo both doubtful for the midweek fixture, Phil Jones may have a rare start alongside the much-improved Victor Lindelöf as United's centre-back pairing.
Solskjaer also confirmed Chilean Alexis Sanchez is likely to be involved at St James' Park, whilst Romelu Lukaku's goal and cameo performance off the bench against Bournemouth may see him introduced from the start on Wednesday.
|Newcastle||Dubravka; Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie; Diame, Hayden, Atsu, Perez; Rondon.|
|Manchester United||De Gea; Young, Jones, Lindelöf, Shaw; Matic, Herrera; Lingard, Pogba, Rashford; Lukaku.|
Head to Head Record
Two giants of English footballing history, Newcastle and Manchester United have faced off a total of 166 times across various competitions. The Red Devils' superiority is clear to see, with United claiming victory in more than half the meetings between the two sides, with 85 wins to their name.
The corresponding fixture last season however was a rare moment of Newcastle joy against the Premier League's most successful side. A 65th minute strike from Matt Ritchie was enough to hand the Magpies all three points in February, with United boss Jose Mourinho extending his surprising record of never having won in his seven visits to St James' Park as a Premier League manager.
Since a 2-1 win over Burnley in late November, Newcastle managed just one Premier League victory in their following seven games. A crucial away victory against fellow relegation strugglers Huddersfield was followed by a disappointing goalless draw at home to Fulham, before they were thrashed by league leaders Liverpool 4-0 at Anfield.
At Old Trafford however, things have begun to look far rosier in recent weeks. Since Jose Mourinho was sacked in the aftermath of their 3-1 defeat to Liverpool in mid-December, new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has overseen a remarkable upturn in form. The Red Devils have been at their free-flowing best under the Norwegian, with 12 goals scored in his opening three games in charge.
Paul Pogba has begun to look like the midfielder that inspired France to World Cup glory in the summer, whilst the likes of Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard have similarly revelled in their new boss' insistence on attacking football.
Here's how each team has performed in their last five fixtures:
|Watford 1-1 Newcastle (29/12)||Manchester United 4-1 Bournemouth (30/12)|
|Liverpool 4-0 Newcastle (26/12)||Manchester United 3-1 Huddersfield (26/12)|
|Newcastle 0-0 Fulham (22/12)||Cardiff 1-5 Manchester United (22/12)|
|Huddersfield 0-1 Newcastle (15/12)||Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United (16/12)|
|Newcastle 1-2 Wolves (09/12)||Valencia 2-1 Manchester United (12/12)|
With such a limited amount of spending on Tyneside, Rafa Benitez claims it will be a miracle if Newcastle were to stay up this season. The Magpies currently find themselves 15th in the table, but with just one win in their last seven Premier League games. With the January transfer opening tomorrow, it is imperative the Spaniard be given enough funds to strengthen his squad for the second half of the season.
For United, it's been a change of manager that has acted like a blockbuster new signing. The arrival of Solskjaer has revitalised the entire club through just a sheer willingness to work from the front and play with freedom. No major tactical innovations, no major personnel changes, and yet United look a completely different side under their new Norwegian manager.
The feel-good factor is back amongst the Red Devils, and with Newcastle seemingly hitting a brick wall in recent weeks, a fourth consecutive win for United and Solskjaer seems on the cards.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-3 Manchester Unite