Newcastle United seemed to be picking up momentum with back-to-back Premier League (PL) wins after struggling with just one win from their prior eight games (D5, L2). Unfortunately, the international break came at an inopportune time for the team. However, manager Eddie Howe wasted no time in taking his players for some warm weather training in Dubai, where he was “Really pleased with what they’ve produced.”
Despite the break, Newcastle remains well in the hunt for a spot in the Champions League, sitting just three points behind third-placed Manchester United, having played the same amount of games. The Magpies have a score to settle against the Red Devils, who defeated them in the EFL Cup final in February. They hope to use the familiar surroundings of St James’ Park as a catalyst for a resurgence in head-to-head matches. This season, Newcastle has lost only one PL game at home (W7, D5, L1).
Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United signed off for the international break on a high note, cruising into the FA Cup semi-final with a 3-1 victory over an ill-disciplined Fulham side. Nonetheless, their focus must now shift back to the race for the top four. During the interim, shooting drills were a significant focus for United, having failed to score in the previous two PL games and the reverse H2H (0-0).
For the visitors, another PL blank seems unthinkable, given that they haven’t failed to score in three straight PL games since 2020 or consecutive PL H2Hs since 1997! Rediscovering their scoring form will be crucial to any United success. As of this round, only relegation-threatened Leicester, Nottingham and Bournemouth have conceded more away league goals than United’s 27.
Players to watch out for are Newcastle’s Callum Wilson, who missed out on England selection. However, the seven-goal striker said that his week of training in Dubai has made “a big difference.” Meanwhile, United’s difference-maker could be Marcus Rashford, who missed out on England selection while recovering from injury. He has scored more PL match-winning goals than any other player (nine).
Hot stat: Newcastle has kept a joint PL-high seven home clean sheets ahead of the round (54%).