Verdict: Manchester United win
Best Odds: 4/6
Manchester United and Newcastle face off at St James’ Park on Sunday with very different ambitions at opposite ends of the Premier League table.
For Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle side, after failing to make a permanent signing during the January transfer window, the Magpies currently find themselves sat in 16th spot and involved at the heart of a relegation battle. Now sat just a single point off the drop zone, Newcastle will need to improve on their current run of form if they intend to extend on their stay in the Premier League. Without a win in their last five matches in all competitions, Benitez will be desperate to improve on the Magpies performances at home. Failing to win their last eight matches at St. James’, this is the second worst Premier League run in Newcastle’s Premier League history.
Newcastle loan signing Islam Slimani is struggling to shake off a thigh injury and will face a fitness test ahead of Sunday’s game.
Central defender Ciaran Clark has recovered from a minor knee issue and should retain his place in the side.
As for the Red Devils, Jose Mourinho’s red half of Manchester bounced immediately back from their 2-0 defeat to Spurs a fortnight ago. Putting on a professional performance last weekend, United were able to pick up three vital points against a struggling Huddersfield side as they look to shore up their chances of securing a Champions League spot come May. Currently sat second in the table, although United may hold a five-point gap over third-place Liverpool, Mourinho’s men are already 13 points adrift of runaway league leaders Manchester City.
Manchester United have no fresh injury concerns ahead of this clash.
Forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic has returned to training but will not be considered, while Eric Bailly and Marouane Fellaini are long-term absentees.
Key Factors to Consider
- Newcastle have won just twice in 28 Premier League meetings, most recently at home in 2012 (D7, L19).
- The Red Devils have won nine of their last 13 league visits to St. James’ Park (D3, L1).
- Newcastle haven’t won in eight Premier League games at St James’ Park, their second-longest run without a home victory in the Premier League (D3, L5).
- Manchester United have kept clean sheets in five of their last six Premier League games. Their season’s tally of 15 clean sheets is the most in the division.
- United have lost just once in 10 top-flight outings (W6, D3). However, that defeat came in their last away game at Tottenham.
Although United may have shown some frailties when facing off against the top six sides, Mourinho’s Manchester United side have been ruthless against the Premier League’s lesser sides. Coming off the back of a 2-0 win against Huddersfield, Newcastle will know that they face a tough test on Sunday afternoon. With Newcastle failing to win any of their last eight matches at St. James’ Park coupled with United’s winning history in the north west, backing United to come away with all three points seems like the most logical bet here.
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