Predicted Manchester United XI v Newcastle

When this season started, whatever you thought
of Manchester United’s prospects, sitting level on points with Newcastle on Boxing Day
seemed even beyond a worst case scenario. Newcastle to their credit been better than
pre-season predictions had forecast, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United have been
more inconsistent than anybody imagined. The two teams head into this Boxing Day fixture
in eighth and ninth place. Newcastle beat us 1-0 in the St James Park
match in early October, this is a chance for United to exact some revenge. In terms of availability, United are boosted
by the returns of Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba. Martial has livened up United’s attack,
even though the away defeat to Watford at the weekend was a big backwards step. Pogba’s return gives United a little bit
of a fresh dawn and this match is a good opportunity for him to make his mark. The defeat at Newcastle sparked questions
about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job. He has answered them, but a defeat here would
make it just one point from a possible nine – and concerns could re-emerge. United need to make a statement with a win
here. Pogba has to be a starter, you would have
to assume, the question is where? We want to see him in attacking midfield,
this is a good game to do that, and allow Fred and Scott McTominay to work in behind
him. It is possible Nemanja Matic starts one of
the festive games, but at home to Newcastle is probably not the right match. Axel Tuanzebe was not in the travelling squad
to face Watford, after limping off against Colchester, and a place on the bench is probably
the best he could hope for here. David de Gea’s selection in goal is a legitimate
talking point after his clanger against Watford, but we assume he gets the nod again back at
Old Trafford. At left-back it is time Brandon Williams was
called into the starting line up again. United could use his attacking ability in
this game, with Newcastle likely to set up deep behind the ball. On the right, Dan James looked a little tired
and low on ideas at Watford. It’s tempting to pick Mason Greenwood here
for his goal threat and see United try to blow Newcastle away by scoring early. James will be needed to put a shift in away
at Burnley two days later and United should use him sensibly. That would be three changes, Williams, Pogba
and Greenwood in, with Shaw, Lingard and James out.

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