Sir Alex Ferguson welcomes under-performing Magpies to Old Trafford.
Given the extraordinary end to last season, if you’d told Sir Alex Ferguson privately at the start of August that his team would be four points clear at the top of the table come Christmas, he would have raised his wine glass and taken it.
His only frustration over his festive celebrations is that he believes it should have been six after their first draw in 21 Premier League games at Swansea.
After the twists and turns of the last campaign it’s difficult to script the second half of the campaign. What we do know is the leaders at Christmas in each of the last three seasons have gone on to be champions and that traditionally Manchester United are stronger once the New Year kicks in.
Games against West Brom and Wigan follow for Sir Alex’s side before the FA Cup begins, so they will at least be looking to maintain their current advantage into January.
United have often made it harder than it should have been so far this season, 25 goals conceded is only eight short of last season’s total. Nemanja Vidic’s return in south Wales will have been a welcome one. If the United skipper can stay fit and feature more regularly alongside Rio Ferdinand in 2013 then the task could be a harder one for the chasing teams.
This will be a stern test for a Newcastle team who’ve yet to win away this season and have lost their last three on the road. Their win at home to QPR was huge for them having lost six of the previous seven matches and this fixtures starts a run that also sees them travel to Arsenal before facing in-form Everton.
SOURCE: BBC Sport
Kick-off 15.00 GMT
TV: Highlights, BBC ONE Match of the Day.
Manchester United (Possible, 4-4-1-1): De Gea; Jones, Evans, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Fletcher, Young; Rooney; Van Persie.
Out: Anderson, Nani (all hamstring), W Keane (knee), Powell (illness).
Tests: Kagawa (knee), Rafael (hamstring).
Newcastle (Possible, 4-3-3): Krul; Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Anita, Perch, Marveaux; Cissé, Ba, Gutierrez.
Out: Tiote (suspended), Ben Arfa, S Taylor (hamstring), Cabaye (groin), Gosling (ankle), R Taylor, Vuckic (both knee).
Referee: Mike Dean (Matches 12, R1 Y43).
Newcastle have only won one of their last 22 matches against Manchester United in all competitions – the 3-0 Premier League home victory in January.
The Magpies have not won in their last 28 top-flight visits to Old Trafford. That run stretches back over 40 years to a 2-0 victory in February 1972.
In total, Manchester United have won 75 Premier League points against Newcastle – more than any other club has against the Geordies.
United have the best Premier League record on Boxing Day, winning 15 of their previous 18 matches on this date and losing only once.
Sir Alex Ferguson has won 21, drawn 12, and lost four out of 37 Premier League matches against Newcastle.
The Red Devils have scored in each of their last 57 Premier League home matches – an all-time record and longest home scoring streak by any top-flight club since Wolves’ 75-match run from 1956 to 1959.
All five of the goals Robin van Persie has scored at Old Trafford have been netted in the first half, four of them in the first 16 minutes of games. He has scored five and assisted three goals in his last seven league games against Newcastle.
This is the eighth time in the last nine Premier League seasons that they have played away from home on Boxing Day. The
Magpies have won only one of 11 away matches on December 26 (a 2-0 win at Bolton last season).
Alan Pardew has won one of seven Premier League matches against Manchester United – Newcastle’s victory at home last season. He has failed to win in three Premier League visits to Old Trafford, losing twice.
The club have not won in their last 19 Premier League visits to the city of Manchester, since the 1-0 victory at City in September 2000.
Half of the 12 away Premier League goals Newcastle have scored have been netted in the 15 minutes after half-time.
SOURCE: BBC Sport
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