By John Ryan
- Manchester United return to Premier League action after international break
- Pogba, Ibrahimovic and Rojo return to squad after long-term injuries
After the loss at Stamford Bridge. Many thought Manchester United would need a game right away to get the loss out their system.
Instead there was an international break and suddenly Jose Mourinho can add Marcus Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba to his matchday squad.
The timing is perfect as United have lost two of their last three Premier League games. Seeing them fall eight points behind Manchester City.
Manchester United have twice won the Premier League when even further than eight points behind the leaders at Christmas.
One of those wins was the infamous comeback to overhaul Saturday’s opponents in 1996.
Kevin Keegan tried to get further ahead of Alex Ferguson by buying Faustino Asprilla mid-season. Alex Ferguson worked some mind games and the rest is history.
Newcastle United never wanted to be a yo-yo club but after relegation in 2009 and 2016. They have now been promoted to the Premier League three times in its quarter century history.
Benitez Has Won At Old Trafford Before
Rafael Benitez has masterminded a Champions League win from three nil down. With one of the most average of squads in the history of the European Cup.
He has masterminded a 4-1 hammering of United at Old Trafford in March 2009 and he has taken Newcastle back to the top flight after just one season in the second tier.
He is ridiculed by many Manchester United fans. But his managerial pedigree and his generosity to the families of those who died at Hillsborough mark him out as a decent man.
After taking over from Mourinho at Inter Milan he landed the World Club Championship in his short spell there and despite being hated for many years by Chelsea’s fans he made them Europa League winners in 2013.
Benitez faces injuries to first team pair Jamaal Lascelles and Christian Atsu but has Paul Dummett and Rob Elliott available for this game.
Key Trio Available Again For Mourinho
With his injured trio back available, Mourinho looks to be without Phil Jones who was injured on England duty.
Manchester United have met Newcastle United one hundred and sixty three times. With the Reds winning eighty three and the Tynesiders winning forty one.
Newcastle’s form has been patchy in their last six games with just five points taken. As Benitez often does, Newcastle’s games have been chess match like and light on goals.
The Geordies have found the net just ten times all season with the same number conceded.
Manchester United have taken ten points from the last eighteen and while they have only conceded five goals all season in the League those goals still account for ten dropped points.
Mourinho is likely to approach this game with a view to a clean sheet and given the styles of both managers a goal fest should not be on the cards.
If Pogba sees match time he is likely to bring a renewed vigour to the United midfield. While Zlatan will offer any defenders a different challenge than posed by Lukaku.
There is a lot of pressure on Jose Mourinho to win this game. Knowing the result from the King Power stadium will be no help to United’s manager.
If Manchester City drop points there Old Trafford will be expecting a win to close the gap to a more manageable level. Should City win, then United simply must do the same.