Manchester United has caught up with their cross-town rivals Manchester City atop the table as both clubs lead the Premier League with 45 points. But the Red Devils have an important match against Newcastle United on Wednesday.
Newcastle have fallen in the table over the past month and have struggled against top-tier teams, but are still within striking distance of the top four.
A positive result against United would do wonders for Newcastle's confidence after a tough 3-1 defeat to Liverpool on Friday.
Newcastle earned a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford back on November 26.
Let's look at everything you need to know about this exciting matchup of quality English clubs that both need points from this fixture.
Where: Sports Direct Arena, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Watch: FOX Deportes, Sky Sports HD1
Live Stream: Sky Sports
When: Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Player to Watch for Manchester United: Dimitar Berbatov
Dimitar Berbatov scored a hat trick in Manchester United's 5-0 thrashing against Wigan on December 26, and he has been in fine form of late.
On the season he has four goals and has started two games in the league. He is an inconsistent player, but when he is in form there are few forwards in England who can score as much as Berbatov can.
Berbatov will be a player to watch against Newcastle whether he starts or comes off the bench for manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Player to Watch for Newcastle: Demba Ba
Demba Ba has had an extraordinary season for Newcastle thus far. He is second in the Premier League in goals scored with 14, one ahead of United forward Wayne Rooney who is in third with 13.
Ba has tremendous skill and is a match winner that can change the momentum of matches with his scoring.
He makes good runs and has speed to bother the United defense. The Red Devils must make sure he is properly marked at all times or Ba will punish them with a goal or two in this match.
Key Matchup: Demba Ba vs. the United Defense
Newcastle forward Demba Ba has 14 of the club's 25 goals in league play this season, and no one else on the squad has scored more than three times in the league.
Ba is the only player on Newcastle who is a huge threat in front of goal, and if Manchester United want to take all three points then limiting Ba's effectiveness in this match has to be priority No. 1.
If Ba struggles to create chances for Newcastle then the club will struggle to score and upset United.
What They're Saying
Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote recently talked about his future with the club, via Soccernet:
He told the Evening Chronicle: "People can say whatever they want to say about me, but I'm a professional footballer and I play for Newcastle. I'm not thinking of leaving in January. I'm very happy playing for this club.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson recently addressed reports that defender Chris Smalling was going to be out of action for a long time, saying via Soccernet:
"I have seen the reports," Ferguson said. "They are well wide of the mark. He has tonsillitis."
There is a chance Smalling could be ready for the Newcastle match on Wednesday.
Prediction: Manchester United Win 3-1
Manchester United has too much attacking power not to score a number of goals against Newcastle on Wednesday and take all three points.
Berbatov and Wayne Rooney would be too much for Newcastle to stop, especially after Newcastle struggled to defend an average Liverpool attack on Friday.
United must make sure Demba Ba doesn't hurt them in front of goal. If they can do that well, then they will have little trouble earning a positive result to start off 2012 strongly.
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