Sunday’s match at the Sports Direct Arena – as St James’s Park is now known — is likely to test Man United’s resolve in what is turning out to be a poor start to the league season.
Even the win in Europe was laboured and their ramshackle defending did nothing to embellish Man United’s veneer of invincibility. As ever, Van Persie was the saving grace for Sir Alex’s squad and he also received some useful assistance from Rooney.
If Man United wanted to put last week’s loss at home, to Spurs, behind them, they could not have chosen a trickier fixture to accomplish that objective; Sir Alex’s wards had a horrendous game when they visited James’ Park, last season, when the Magpies handed them a 3-0 defeat. The defeat rankled all the more coming as it did a week after losing at home to relegation zoners, Blackburn Rovers.
Their vulnerable back-line will be Man United’s chief worry, with Hatem Ben Arfa likely to prove more than a handful for the likes of Patrick Evra to handle; Cisse and Dembe Ba are likely to add to the misery of Man United’s central defenders. The Old Trafford squad can ill afford successive league defeats that could cause their raison d’etre – as indefatigable Premier League titans — to be questioned. Especially as a visit to Stamford Bridge and a home match against Gunners loom in the coming weeks.
Added to that, Newcastle’s confidence has been boosted, ahead of Sunday’s game, with a 3-0 home win against Bordeaux, mid-week, in the Europa League. That win came on the back of goals by Ameobi and Cisse. But manager Alan Pardew, the recent beneficiary of a renewed contract at Newcastle, will have to contend with the absence through injury of Yohan Cabaye, Ryan Taylor, Danny Simpson, Tim Krul, Fabrico Coloccini and Steven Taylor.
Sir Alex has his own injury worries, with Vidic, Jones and Smalling sidelined. The absence of Vidic will be felt in aerial battles and you can be certain of a surfeit of those with Newcastle’s penchant for pumping balls into the rival box.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.