Manchester United vs. Newcastle: Predicting United's Starting XI vs. Newcastle
Sir Alex Ferguson has often used this tournament as a platform to blood youngsters into the flow of English football. However, Newcastle are a strong team with high hopes of going far into this tournament and will no doubt take this game very seriously.
I feel Sir Alex will also, given the opposition, name a strong team. Here are my predictions for United's starting lineup against Newcastle.
GK: David de Gea
David de Gea was left out of the Liverpool starting lineup but should return in goal for United, continuing Sir Alex Ferguson's policy of not sticking with one goalkeeper.
LB: Alexander Buttner
Sir Alex handed Alexander Buttner his debut in place of Patrice Evra against Wigan Athletic but brought the Frenchman back into the fold against Galatasaray and Liverpool.
The manager may decide to give his new signing another opportunity to get some experience.
RB: Rafael da Silva
Ever since Rafael was handed the No. 2 jersey, his form has dramatically improved.
His forward runs and goals (surprise!) have inspired United to wins of late and he should start this game.
CB: Jonny Evans
Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed that Nemanja Vidic's absence in the Liverpool game was a precautionary measure because the Serb was feeling "a bit tight around the knees" [The Daily Mail].
Evans to take Vidic's place.
CB: Rio Ferdinand
With Chris Smalling and Phil Jones out with injury, Rio Ferdinand is unlikely to be rested for this one so I see him starting against Newcastle.
CM: Paul Scholes
Paul Scholes was left out of the starting XI against Liverpool but came on in the second half to galvanise United's midfield.
I'm torn between Scholes and Anderson in this position but will go with Scholes.
CM: Darren Fletcher
After the Galatasaray game in the Champions League, Sir Alex stated that Fletcher would feature against Newcastle. Easy pick then. [Manchester Evening News].
CM: Antonio Valencia
With the form Nani is in at the moment, Sir Alex can't afford to rest Antonio Valencia. As such, I feel the Ecuadorian will start against Newcastle.
AMC: Tom Cleverley
Tom Cleverley hasn't featured for Manchester United since the international break, so now is as good a time as any.
The attacking midfielder's energy and willingness may well prove to be the solution to United's (relative) inability this season to transition from central midfield to the final third.
SC: Danny Welbeck
I can see Sir Alex Ferguson resting Robin van Persie or at least not starting him with Tottenham Hotspur game at the weekend in mind. Welbeck to start.
SC: Javier Hernandez
Welbeck is unlikely to play as a lone striker simply because he can't. So Javier Hernandez will more than likely partner him in attack.