Newcastle United host Manchester United in a must-win game for the Red Devils, whose rivals Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal all won their games this weekend, leaving Sir Alex Ferguson's side in sixth place, behind the Gunners, on goal difference. The Magpies have already played their visitors once this season and that didn't go too well. United beat them 2-1 in the third round of the Capital One Cup.
Where to Watch Live
Kick-off is set for 4pm BST but coverage starts from 3.30pm BST on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports HD 1; Sky 3D starts coverage from 3.45pm BST. Manchester United TV will have an hour-long build-up, starting at 3pm BST. BBC Radio 5 Live will have commentary from 4pm BST.
Newcastle come into this match high on confidence after outplaying Ligue 1 club Bordeaux in a midweek Europa League fixture. The French club were unbeaten in 17 games coming to Newcastle but the Magpies put three goals past them and kept a clean sheet. Newcastle's league form, however, has been a little sketchy and manager Alan Pardew will be hoping the 3-0 win over Bordeaux will inspire his side to their third win of the season. The hosts for this game were held 2-2 by Reading at the Madejski Stadium in their last league game, for which they needed Senegalese striker Demba Ba to come off the bench and secure a rather undeserved point.
That draw left Newcastle 10th in the league, with only nine points from six games. The results on Saturday will have an impact on the Magpies as well as the Red Devils. Newcastle are already three points behind the last European competition spot for next season and with Chelsea, Arsenal and City looking like they are kicking into top gear, they need to start matching the big boys for results if they want a season like the last one.
United also enjoyed midweek success, travelling to Transylvania to beat CFR Cluj 2-1 in a Champions League game. And, like Newcastle, they preceded that win with a poor performance in the league. In their case, they were beaten 2-3 by Tottenham at Old Trafford, in a game that exposed the side's lack of pace and its inability to control the midfield. The same issues cropped up against Cluj and Sir Alex Ferguson has striker Robin van Persie to thank for snatching that win.
The defeat to Tottenham will certainly prey on United's mind though, with Newcastle having enough about their forward line, in terms of pace and physical presence, to trouble their back line.
- Last Five (most recent first): W D L W D
- Last Result: Newcastle 3 - 0 Bordeaux
- Last Five (most recent first): W L W W W
- Last Result: CFR Cluj 1 - 2 Manchester United
Newcastle: The hosts have a goalkeeper crisis at the moment. First choice Tim Krul is already unavailable and the win against Bordeaux was soured by an injury to second choice Rob Elliot. This means Steve Harper will start the game, with a reserve team player on the bench.
Meanwhile, a number of big name players rested for the midweek game (and that brings the impact of the 3-0 win into focus) will return for this game. These include defender Davide Santon, midfielders Jonas Gutierres and Hatem ben Arfa, and striker Demba Ba. The good news is former United defender Danny Simpson, who has spent much of the season so far injured, made a comeback against Bordeaux and he will probably start against his old club. Pardew will, however, be unable to call on captain Fabricio Coloccini, and Steven and Ryan Taylor.
Newcastle will probably field both Ba and his compatriot, Papiss Cisse, up front, in a bid to exploit United's defensive weaknesses. The recovery of Ivory Coast midfielder Chieck Tiote, the midfield enforcer, will make the battle for the centre of the park hugely interesting, since it was this failure - to hold the ball in the centre - that really caused United to lose against Spurs.
Probable Line-Up: Harper; Simpson, Perch, Williamson, Santon; Ben Arfa, Tiote, Cabaye; Gutierrez, Cisse, Ba
Manchester United: Ferguson will recall the experienced trio of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick for this game, after all three were left out of the trip to Romania. However, given how badly Scholes and Giggs were exposed against Spurs, it is unlikely the two will start together. Expect a more dynamic partner for Scholes, whose second half against Spurs was brilliant - maybe Anderson or Tom Cleverley.
Up front, Rooney and van Persie started together for the first time in the win against Cluj and the attack looked better than it has for weeks. The league's two top goal scorers from last season will start again for this game, with Portuguese winger Nani in support, although young England international Danny Welbeck is an option.
In defence, Ferguson really has little option but to continue with the back four of Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra, despite the obvious problems. Chris Smalling is expected to return soon but will certainly not be fit for this game, while Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic are nowhere near ready.
Probable Line-Up: Lindegaard; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Carrick, Scholes, Anderson; Nani, van Persie, Rooney