Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have never before lost two of their opening 10 Premier League fixtures but, after losing at home to Spurs last weekend, they’ll also be looking atone for poor performances.
Man United are still without their captain, leader and best defender Nemanja Vidic, their defensive dilemma compounded by knee and toe injuries to Jones and Smalling, respectively.
Sir Alex Ferguson may be faced with a real selection headache this weekend with news that Johnny Evans also has a slight problem with his leg and will have to undergo tests before the fixture.
Enter Demba Ba. The Premier League’s top goalscorer will be looking to add to his impressive account of 6 goals in 6 games for Newcastle. The Senegalese striker will pose a strong and powerful aerial threat for United this weekend.
Alan Pardew’s team will be looking to play direct, bombarding the United defence with crosses for Ba and Cisse to get on to – I would imagine their play will be most effective working off of the second ball.
Cisse towered over young defender Scott Wootton in the League Cup to score for Newcastle, and will feel confident in having the beating of the inexperienced centre-back if he is thrown in tomorrow.
United fullback Rafael will have to curb his enthusiasm for galloping forward as he is prone to leave space in behind him and Newcastle’s Jonas Gutierrez can and will likely punish him for any attacking indulgence.
Should Rafael allow Gutierrez the time and space on the flank to get a cross in – it’ll likely be met by Ba and or Cisse who, in their current form, seem unlikely to miss.
Meanwhile Man United will be dominant in midfield – they will probably dominate possession with Scholes, Kagawa and Wayne Rooney making triangles in the centre of the park.
Both Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia are doubtful, meaning United will be relying on Nani and Tom Cleverley to stretch the play on the wings.
Tiote and Cabaye will be tasked with minimizing the threat that Rooney poses in the hole between midfield and the forward van Persie. They may find themselves chasing shadows for periods in the game, especially if Pardew intends to set his team out to counter-attack. Meanwhile the Frenchman can cause United further problems with his attacking and through balls to the strikers.
Tiote successfully negated Rooney in the club's 3-0 win at St James' over United in January, and the Englishman will hope the Ivorian is not a thorn in his side once again.
The central midfielders will have to keep their composure and put in a solid shift defensively if they are to intercept the final ball before it reaches van Persie. Coloccini, Stuart and Ryan Taylor are all out, giving Newcastle a defensive dilemma all of their own.
But Newcastle’s confidence and moral will be sky-high after their dominant 3-0 victory over Bordeaux midweek.
The crowd will act as the twelfth man and Sir Alex Ferguson’s side will have to suck it up and get on with it if they intend to atone for last weekend’s poor result. If they don’t, they may find themselves on the end of another demoralizing defeat.