Newcastle United travel to Old Trafford to face Premier League leaders Manchester United in the penultimate round of December 2012 fixtures. The Magpies are struggling in the league this season and have only 20 points from 18 games. The Red Devils, however, have had a superb first half of the season, with Sir Alex Ferguson's men winning 14 of 18 league games so far.
Where to Watch
Kick-off is set for 3 pm GMT. Live radio commentary will be available on BBC Radio 5 Live. Catch highlights on Match of the Day, on BBC One and BBC One HD at 10.25 pm GMT.
United come into this post-Christmas fixture after having dropped points at Liberty Stadium in a 1-1 draw against Swansea City. Meanwhile, rivals and defending champions Manchester City earned a last-gasp win over Reading at the Etihad, courtesy a Gareth Barry header. The results mean Sir Alex Ferguson's lead at the top has been cut to four points and with two games still to go before the New Year, City could make further inroads.
The game at the Liberty Stadium saw left back Patrice Evra's early goal cancelled by Swansea talisman Michu; the Spaniard's 13th Premier League goal of the season helps the Swans stay within touching distance of the top ten. And the goal also meant United conceded their first draw, in any competition, this season.
The draw in Wales aside, United have won four of the five previous league games. The last time they lost was in November, a 1-0 defeat to Norwich at Carrow Road. And United have won seven of eight home fixtures this year, with the only defeat coming at the hands of Tottenham.
There is further reason for Alan Pardew to be worried. United have played the Magpies twice so far this year and won both times; a 2-1 Capital One Cup win at Old Trafford and a 3-0 win at St James' Park in the reverse league fixture.
Pardew took three desperately needed points of QPR on Saturday, when Shola Ameobi's late strike gave the Magpies a first win in four games. More importantly, the three points means there is a five point buffer to struggling Wigan Athletic, in the last relegation spot.
And to top things off for Tyneside club, Newcastle have yet to win on the road, with four defeats and four draws from eight games so far. In fact, outside of Wigan, West Ham, Stoke, Villa and bottom of the table Reading, Newcastle have scored the fewest goals on the road - eight. And United have conceded only 10 times from their eight home games.
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): D W W L W
- Last Result: Swansea City 1 - 1 Manchester United
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): W L L L W
- Last Result: Newcastle United 1 - 0 Queens Park Rangers
Ferguson has a few injury worries ahead of this game, with the Brazilian duo of Anderson and Rafael likely to miss this game. Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa and Portuguese winger Nani are also unlikely to play. Centre back Rio Ferdinand, who was rested for the game against Swansea, will probably return for this encounter, in place of Northern Irishman Jonny Evans.
Probable Line-Up: De Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Young, Carrick, Scholes, Welbeck; Rooney, van Persie
Newcastle have long-term absentees in defender Steven Taylor, the French midfield duo of Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye, and Ryan Taylor. Midfielders Dan Gosling and Slovenian Haris Vuckic add to that list. Another Frenchman, Sylvain Marveaux, came on as a substitute in the win against QPR and will probably start this game. Senegalese strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse will lead Newcastle's attack.
Probable Line-Up: Krul; Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon; Anita, Tiote; Marveaux, Gutierrez, Cisse; Ba