How can Newcastle United snatch a point against Manchester United
Can the Magpies take something away from their visit to Old Trafford?
The final international break of this year is over and Premier League football makes a return to Old Trafford as Manchester United are all set to host Rafa Benitez's Newcastle United. Both the teams lost their previous fixture 1-0 and would expect to produce a positive result in this game.
Newcastle's excellent start to the season was hampered by two consecutive defeats in the hands of Bournemouth and Burnley in their last two games. An away win at Old Trafford would be too much to ask for but they certainly could snatch a point against the Red Devils if the players rise up to the occasion.
Switching back to 4-2-3-1
Last fixture saw Rafa Benitez altering his formation to 4-4-2 from their conventional 4-2-3-1 approach. While 4-4-2 had a lot of positives, its major drawback was that it created defensive holes created at the back. Newcastle were caught napping on the break several times against Bournemouth but The Cherries failed to make it count at the end.
Against a side like Manchester United that could punish you for even a minor mistake, Rafa Benitez would not like his defence to be exposed and would hopefully revert back to 4-2-3-1.
This change would see Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden returning to their natural CDM role and assist the back-four. A lone forward at the front means that Dwight Gayle will possibly be replaced by Ayoze Perez, who would play as the number-10 behind Joselu.
Ciaran Clark must fill the boots of Jamaal Lascelles
Newcastle skipper Jamaal Lascelles was forced off against Bournemouth with an ankle injury and it is expected that he won't feature in the squad against Manchester United. He would possibly be replaced by the Irish international Ciaran Clark, who has spent a couple of games on the bench this season.
It is going to be very tough for Newcastle without their skipper who has been a rock at the back for his side showing his leadership quality and organizing the backline which has seen them concede only 10 goals in the league so far.
Ciaran Clark will be playing alongside Florian Lejeune in the absence of Lascelles and would hope to assert his place in the line up by putting up a quality performance in such a high-pressure game.
The Irishman would be up against the second top-scorer in the league-- Romelu Lukaku, who has been a victim of plenty of criticisms in recent times. Lukaku's aerial ability is one of his biggest strengths and it is going to be a tough task ahead for Clark to restrict the threat of the Big Belgian.
Controlling Rashford/Martial down the left flank
Rashford and Martial have been crucial for United this season as they have been involved in 12 goals between them so far in the league. Mourinho has rarely started both of them together and has loved to start one of them on the left side while benching the other one. Newcastle's full-back DeAndre Yedlin must be at his best in order to restrict the threat posed by United's wingers down the flanks.
DeAndre Yedlin has started the season well and has certainly impressed Benitez and sealed his position in the starting line-up. The full-back's work-rate has been quite fascinating and his pace is causing several kinds of problem to the opposition. This clash between United's wingers and Yedlin would be a treat to watch and a top performance from Yedlin would certainly boost his confidence level which would help him succeed in the remaining games of the season