The time has come.
They said revenge is a dish best served cold, and the last time I checked it was 8 ºC in Newcastle upon Tyne, 10 am in the UK morning. Is that cold enough? We’ll have to wait to know.
One and only one thing we know: the last time Newcastle faced Manchester United there was a very different landscape. The Magpies and the Reds had to move all the way south to Wembley, a neutral territory. Newcastle won the battle of the crowds, Manchester the one played on the actual ground.
This, though, is a very different game.
For one, Newcastle have recovered their best form after winning back-to-back games right before the international break and their warm-weather, UAE-based camp. Man Utd, on the other hand, lost (0-7) and drew (0-0) in their past two outings for a net-negative seven-goal difference.
Then, there is the fact that Manchester’s players have many more kilometers in their odometer. Yes, they are playing in all four competitions and still win the quadruple, but that comes with the (un)healthy tax of getting hella tired as the season advances, let alone into April.
Also, the Magpies are welcoming back Joelinton, Pope, Botman, and Wilson, all of them except the first one (coming off a two-game suspension) questionable with different injuries until last Friday when Eddie Howe cleared them. Not the case for Anthony Gordon, still doubtful, nor Miggy, injured and out for another month. Man Red, though, will have to do without stout midfielder Casemiro on top of missing Christian Eriksen, Alejandro Garnacho, and maybe Marcel Sabitzer and Raphael Varane. Who knows about Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, also doubtful.
If (when) Newcastle win today, they would have reached 50 Premier League points for the first time since the 2011-12 season while already topping last year’s tally of 49 total points on their way to avoid relegation. That’s crazy to think about with 12 games still on Newcastle’s schedule and the boys from up north aiming at a potential maximum of 83 points this season if they can somehow win out all of their remaining fixtures.
Just for context, Leicester won the league with 81 points in 2016. Man City won the 2021 edition with 86. We’re getting there, folks, is what I’m trying to say.
Eddie Howe spoke to the media on Friday providing some fresh takes on Newcastle’s state of affairs just hours before Sunday’s game.
You can read everything Howe had to say here, as part of our pre-match coverage.
FotMob.com predictions at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Red Devils are in, so let’s go through what could be coming from Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.
- Not Available: Krafth (knee), Almiron (thigh)
- Doubtful: Gordon (ankle)
- No suspended players and just one (two, if you want to count Krafth) injury on Newcastle’s roster. It’s not optimal considering the missing piece is a key one (Miggy) with no real top-level replacement, but we can’t complain. No excuses for Jacob Murphy not to produce today, although we’ll see how he does with no players putting pressure on him from the bench as clear-cut options to replace him midway through the game unless Howe decides to invent.
- The lack of versatility up front sucks, truth be told, because Almiron’s absence could have opened a spot for, say, Allan Saint-Maximin moving to the right, Joelinton playing on the left wing, and Alexander Isak leading the forward line. That’s hard to see happening, though, because ASM is never going to man the right flank. I mention this, of course, because it will be interesting to see how Howe solves the ASM-Joelinton conundrum with the Brazilian returning from his two-game ban.
- The midfield trio of Sean Longstaff, Bruno, and Joe Willock has been fantastic of late, so it’s hard to see Joelinton usurping a place from any of them. I think ASM is still the most vulnerable player in the event of a change, as he seems to have lost a bit of the gaffer’s confidence and might be sold next summer if only to keep the bank accounts balanced. This is a monster game with heavy implications on the final standings, so whatever happens might change the future of many different parties.
- The quote above is great. Not so great for ASM: I think he will get benched in favor of Joelinton. The last time these two teams faced each other in the EFL Cup, Joelinton played the full 90 while ASM got subbed off in the 78th minute with Newcastle down 0-2. None of them were great, or atrocious, but Joelinton is the more defensive of the two and can track back more and for longer periods without bitching about it. Dan Burn struggled mightily in the left-back position, so having Joelinton in front of him and looking to put on some defensive efforts won’t hurt.
- Assuming Sven Botman is available there will be no changes in the middle of the defensive line. Botman went through some stomach issues recently, so it’s not that he’s going to take any precautionary measures. He’ll be fit, or he won’t, with no middle ground. I expect him to be out there and so I do with Fabian Schar, so Dan Burn should stay on the left and Kieran Trippier on the right.
- Callum Wilson played 89 minutes against Man Utd in the Carabao Cup final and attempted a couple of shots. He then started against Man City one week later and attempted just one measly shot. He hit the pine against Wolves, played 23 minutes off the bench, and Newcastle won. He didn’t play at all against Nott Forest, and NUFC won once more. I don’t know about you, but I see a clear trend here.
- Since signing with Newcastle back in January, Anthony Gordon has appeared in just four games with the Magpies logging 165 total minutes. That’s not even two full matches worth of minutes, and Gordon has never played more than 61 when he did so against Man City in his most recent outing. Honestly, there is no reason to be worried. Howe eased Bruno in a year ago, and see how that went. I hope to watch him for a bit at the end of the game today, although I’m not sure Howe will risk any setback if the young bloke is not at 100% fitness and availability.
Anthony Gordon has not appeared in a game won by his teams (Everton/Newcastle) since Oct. 22nd, 2022. Crazy pic.twitter.com/mHUVRxytgG— Antonio Losada (@chapulana) April 2, 2023
- It sounds incredibly crazy and impossible, but Gordon has not experienced a victory in any competition since Oct. 22nd, 2022 when Everton defeated Crystal Palace. Gordon scored one of the three Toffee goals back then. He has not scored a goal ever again. Let’s hope that changes soon!
CHN Predicted Lineup
DEF Trippier - Schar - Botman - Burn
MID Longstaff - Bruno - Willock
WNG Murphy - Joelinton
Man Utd XI
- Date: Sunday, April 2nd
- Kick-off: 16:30 BST / 11:30 EST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)
- Broadcasts: fuboTV (CAN) — SiriusXM FC, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, nbcsports.com, Telemundo, NBC Sports App, USA Network (USA) — SKY GO Extra, Sky Sports Main Event, BBC Radio 5 Live, Sky Sports Premier League (UK)
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Howay the Lads!