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Into the Theatre Of Dreams: Stop Two on the #StretchOfDoom - A 5 Point Preview of Newcastle United v. Manchester United

Gaby Obertan is looking to impress upon his return to Old Trafford
Gaby Obertan is looking to impress upon his return to Old Trafford

Old foes Newcastle United and Manchester United are set to renew their hostilities this weekend at Old Trafford. The clubs will meet for the 154th time with Manchester United having a commanding 78-36-39 advantage in the all time record. Newcastle's futility in the fixture is an idea that is on many peoples' lips this weekend, but for a slightly different reason. The last time Newcastle defeated the Red Devils on their own pitch was February 12, 1972. . . Thirty-nine years ago.

Coming off of their first defeat in the league season, Alan Pardew and his lads will be hoping to rebound and buck history all in one swoop.

  1. Newcastle United have been shut out in 5 of their last seven visits to Old Trafford. Despite the Toon's flying start to the season, they can hardly be reckoned an offensive juggernaut, scoring at a 1.5 goal per game clip. Manchester United, on the other hand, average nearly 2.5
  2. Manchester United have scored only one goal in each of their last 5 Premier League matches, while Newcastle United still boast the Premier League's stingiest defense. Perhaps most influential to the momentum of one or the other of these trends will be the disposition of Wayne Rooney. Ever a thorn in the Magpies' side, Rooney has scored 9 times from 12 PL matches v. the Toon.
  3. If there is a place in the Red Devil squad that has been tested or stretched with regard to depth, it is the central midfield area. Against Manchester City particularly, the Devils were bossed around in the midfield area. . . but frankly, so were the Mags last weekend. Cheik Tiote's potential return could heavily weigh in Newcastle's favor. . . depending which of the sides of the coin the AP Randomizer stops on.
  4. Perception is a very odd thing - while the popular idea is that Manchester United are struggling, it bears noting that 29 points from their first 12 matches accounts for one of their best starts to a season in the history of the Premier League. Additionally, while their roster may lack a little of the all-star quality of City's, you are still talking about a team that has had the luxury of resting Nemanja Vidic, Chicharito, Ji-Sung Park and the evergreen Ryan Giggs in midweek. In Europe.
  5. If Newcastle are able to return Tiote and Obertan to the lineup, restoring to AP's preferred starting XI, this match could very well come down to a battle of tactic. Newcastle came through with shining colors with regard to tactic in the match versus Stoke-- I believe that I may have called a masterstroke the way we handled what Stoke wanted and insisted on trying to do. Against City, ultimately the tactic battle ended poorly, whether the blame lay at Alan Pardew's or the players' feet. So let's call it 1-1 for AP thus far, with this to be the third of the series.

Newcastle United FC

Currently: 4th place, 7-4-1, 25 pts

Out: Leon Best (groin), Sylvain Marveaux (groin)

Probable: Cheik Tiote (knee)

Projected XI: Krul | Simpson, STaylor, Coloccini, RTaylor | Obertan, Tiote, Cabaye, Jonas | Ben Arfa, Ba

Projected Subs: Elliot, Santon, Perch, Guthrie, Shola, Sammy, Gosling

Manchester United FC

Currently: 2nd place, 9-2-1, 29 points

Out: Anderson (knee), Michael Owen (thigh), Tom Cleverly (foot/ankle), Bebe (Knee)

Questionable: Wayne Rooney (hip), Chris Smalling (foot/ankle)

Projected XI: De Gea | Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra | Nani, Carrick, Fletcher, Park | Chicharito, Wellbeck

Projected subs: Lindegaard, Young, Evans, Valencia, Fabio, Giggs, Wellbeck

Fun Quotes!

Sir Alex Ferguson: "They're all working like Trojans up there. Newcastle aren't doing much wrong at the moment and the quality of the league is improving - you can throw a net over the top five or six. December is an arduous month for everyone. But you have a chance in this league if you're still in the ball park by New Year. And the way this club is organised to perform in the second half of the season helps us."

Alan Pardew: "(Ferguson) has clocking up all sorts of milestones. It's about time he walked away and gave someone else a chance. He has been brilliant. I know he will be smarting from Wednesday's draw so, unfortunately, we are on the back of a negative from Manchester United's point of view, so it will be a tough game for us. When the last game of the season comes around, I expect Manchester United to be playing for the title. He wouldn't have it any other way, the manager."

Newcastle are going to need to boss the midfield if they are going to try to take anything away from Old Trafford for the first time in 39 years, and though Manchester United are stretched a bit in that area and struggled there against Manchester City, it is hardly going to be as easy to execute as it is to say. It could be a very long day if Newcastle allow Sir Alex Ferguson's charges to build steadily through the midfield as they did City last weekend, we're looking at a 40 year draught at Old Trafford.

Prediction Guaranteed To Be Wrong:

Newcastle put all of our hopes in the #StretchOfDoom on the Chelsea match.

Newcastle United 1 - Manchester United 2