Manchester United need to bring an end to a streak that has seen them win just one in four in the league. Newcastle have lost their last two, and could do with stunting a potentially poor run as they head into a tough group of fixtures.
It is Rafael Benitez visiting Jose Mourinho’s home ground. This match is not the be all and end all for the teams, but it sees a return of one of the Premier League’s best rivalries – in the dugout, anyway.
This clash has a lengthy history in the Premier League. From the battle to sign Shearer to famous Kevin Keegan quotes, there have been classics, title fights, and the odd bit of bad blood. These are two different squads, led by different managers, but the respective management should ensure it’s another fierce fixture. Benitez, for sure, will be given a hostile welcome by the Old Trafford crowd.
Amidst Paris Saint Germain rumours, failure to win here is not an option for United. It could see them slip to fourth, and would be almost a decisive blow to their title hopes.
Newcastle present a threat that has troubled this United side. Benitez will bring an organised unit to Old Trafford, and could halt an attack that has been short of creativity since Paul Pogba’s injury. The Frenchman is believed to be close to a return, but this match is likely a few days too soon.
The Magpies troubled Liverpool at St James’ a few weeks ago. Without their bellowing support, though, this is an entirely different situation. Their away form has been poor this season, with three defeats in five league matches away from their northeast home.
Goals have been hard to come by for Benitez’s men, too. Only one has been scored in their last three in the league, as their attack has looked frustratingly short of invention. The 11/20 price on them to fail to score is on the short side, however, given the mistakes that we have seen in this Manchester United defence.
Romelu Lukaku is one of the leading stories coming into this one. The Belgian has seen his flying start to the season come to a spectacular halt. He is in the midst of a goal drought, and is suffering at the head of the dysfunctional Manchester United attack. Chances are not going to be easy to come by on Saturday evening, either. His 11/10 price not to score is longer than I would have expected.
People who suffered through Mourinho and Benitez’s meetings over a decade or so ago should expect this match to be a battle. It might well be an unpleasant watch, and goals are unlikely to fly in. The 19/20 on under 2.5 goals is, as a result, good value.
Even a draw for the visitors would be an upset of sorts. For those that fancy that, it’s at 24/5. Backing a United win is almost impossible to justify at 1/4, but so a draw at half-time, home win at full-time at 3/1 might be the best value.
TIP: Manchester United to win 2-0 @ 22/5
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*