How Newcastle United Will Line Up Against Manchester United
Magpies boss Alan Pardew declared his squad were gripped by an “injury crisis” this week, as reported by Ben Jefferson in the Daily Express, with a number of names missing from the team that won at Old Trafford in December.
The Toon will be without French internationals Loic Remy, Mathieu Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko, as well as Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul, while last year’s match-winner Yohan Cabaye moved on in January.
So as the Geordies attempt to erase their 4-0 horror show at Southampton last Saturday, Bleacher Report looks at how Pardew’s men could line up against the Red Devils.
Goalkeeper: Rob Elliot
Perhaps the only Newcastle United player to come away from last weekend’s mauling at Southampton with any credit, Rob Elliot will continue to deputise for the injured Tim Krul on Saturday.
The former Charlton Athletic man kept the Saints at bay until first-half stoppage time at St. Mary’s Stadium and but for his shot-stopping abilities, the Magpies could have conceded a lot more than four.
Up against the likes of Wayne Rooney, the 27-year-old will need to be at his best once more as the Magpies look to do the double over Manchester United for the first time since the 1930-31 season.
Full-Backs: Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Davide Santon
No strangers to being substituted at half-time, both Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Davide Santon have a point to prove this weekend as they look to re-establish trust in their abilities.
Prior to his recent injury, left-back Santon was hauled off at the break against Tottenham Hotspur, while Yanga-Mbiwa suffered the ignominy of being replaced halfway through last weekend’s collapse at Southampton.
Both of those fixtures ended 4-0 to the opposition, and with their defensive reputations on the line, the pair need to display determination and awareness in equal measure.
With a lack of alternatives at right-back, Yanga-Mbiwa will continue to fill in for the injured Mathieu Debuchy, while Santon could get the nod over Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara on the other flank.
Centre-Backs: Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson
Despite shipping seven goals in their last two fixtures, Magpies manager Alan Pardew will stick with his first-choice centre-back pairing for the visit of Manchester United.
Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson were exposed time and again at Southampton—especially for the Saints’ first goal—and a stronger, more concentrated effort is needed to avoid another defeat on Saturday.
The usually dependable Coloccini has looked surprisingly out of sorts recently but teammates and fans alike will look to their Argentine captain to inspire a strong finish to the campaign.
Central Midfielders: Vurnon Anita and Cheick Tiote
A complete lack of creativity in the middle of the park has been Newcastle’s downfall of late, but in truth, the club’s failure to replace Yohan Cabaye has left manager Alan Pardew with his hands tied.
As such, the workmanlike pairing of Cheick Tiote and Vurnon Anita will remain in the starting XI for Saturday’s clash with Manchester United as the deficiencies of the Toon’s squad are laid bare.
Both are competent technicians of the game, and their strength in midfield could be vital against David Moyes’ men. Tiote in particular could make a big difference if his man-to-man marking skills are utilised properly.
Wide Midfielders: Hatem Ben Arfa and Yoan Gouffran
There’s a feeling at St. James’ Park that a number of Newcastle United players are in the last chance saloon ahead of a summer clear-out, and Hatem Ben Arfa certainly falls into that category.
Boss Alan Pardew had seemingly lost patience with the erratic Frenchman but a hamstring injury to Moussa Sissoko should see him named in the starting XI for only the fifth time in the league this year.
With Ben Arfa on the right, Yoan Gouffran will be asked to up his game on the other flank after a lifeless performance at Southampton last weekend.
The former Bordeaux man was amongst the goals during the first-half of the season, but he has not found the net at all in 2014, with his last strike coming against Stoke City on Boxing Day.
Centre-Forwards: Luuk De Jong and Papiss Cisse
Speaking of players who need to step up to the plate, on-loan striker Luuk De Jong could see his dream of a permanent move to the Premier League disappear if his form doesn’t improve over the final five weeks of the season.
Since arriving from Borussia Monchengladbach in January, the Dutchman has rarely threatened and is yet to score in a black and white shirt, despite making nine appearances.
As is the case elsewhere in the team, his starting place is born out of necessity and thanks to Loic Remy’s continued injury problems, the 23-year-old should start against Manchester United.
Alongside him, Papiss Cisse will hope to add to his late winner against Crystal Palace last month as he searches for the kind of form that could save his Magpies career.