Man United vs Newcastle Preview: Man United vs Newcastle 2021:Solskjaer press conference reaction
Newcastle United's trips to Old Trafford have been tough in recent years but it remains to be seen how much difference the lack of a crowd makes.
I want to get Newcastle on my side in this one.
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Manchester United look a team on the verge of encountering a bad run of form that all the top-six clubs have faced at some point this season. You could argue Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's are actually already in the midst of a sticky patch with just one win from their last four league games vs Sheffield United, Southampton, Everton and West Brom.
There seems to be a feeling that Newcastle are serious relegation contenders but a quick look at the table sees them six points clear of the drop. I'd be very surprised if they even get dragged into the scrap if they remain playing in this more attack-minded style we've seen of late. This isn't the Newcastle of a few weeks ago that embarrassed themselves in a 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United. It's a braver, more forward-thinking approach.
Since switching to this diamond-like formation halfway through their defeat to Leeds with Miguel Almiron playing in the pocket, Newcastle are averaging just under two goals a game still and 12.5 shots a game. I thought they handled themselves quite well at Chelsea, registering 10 shots at goal - the most Thomas Tuchel has faced in the league since taking over at Stamford Bridge. Yes, there's going to be a problem finishing these chances without Callum Wilson but playing this way will still get Newcastle into dangerous areas of the pitch with Allan Saint-Maximin an obvious threat.
There's lots of betting angles I'm keen to attack. Perhaps the strongest one, in terms of nailing a return, would be to back Newcastle with a two-goal head start at 10/11. So, for the bet to win Newcastle either need to win, draw or lose by one goal.
This is a bet that would have won backing the opposing team in 14 of Manchester United's last 16 matches.
I also like the 11/10 for Newcastle to have 10 or more shots and wouldn't be against playing the 9/2 for 13 or more shots.
It was that performance at the Baggies, backed up by similarly nervous showings of late, that suggests to me that it's going to be a struggle for them to hold onto second place for much longer. Sam Allardyce's men defended resolutely, yes, but they were never put under any pressure from United's forward play. An expected goals figure of just 0.47 - their second lowest recorded this season - showcased just how much inspiration they lacked in the final third
It made none whatsoever at another of their bogey grounds this week at Stamford Bridge but Toon fans have every right to fear a heavy defeat here.
Toon fans of a certain generation still dislike the Red Devils after their title tussles in the 1990s, which could make this a difficult watch.
Being beaten in the Premier League is bad enough but to have Toon noses rubbed in it by Man United is a hugely unpleasant prospect.
Can Newcastle players find something to shut a few critics up?
It's doubtful and that's why it feels like this will be a home victory - fans or no fans.
The only straw to clutch is that Man United come into it on the back of a Europa League trip to Turin where they take on Real Sociedad on neutral territory.