Manchester United look to get back on track after defeat to Watford and Dave Tindall is here to preview the Boxing Day clash against Newcastle at Old Trafford...
"Only the bottom two have scored fewer away goals than Newcastle (eight) while Man Utd have conceded just nine at home, the same as Liverpool and Man City."
Manchester United v Newcastle
Thursday 26 December, 17:30
Live on Amazon Prime
Solskjaer will seek home comforts
The last few days must have been hard to stomach for Manchester United fans.
While Liverpool were celebrating victory in the Club World Cup in Qatar, a limp United were succumbing to a miserable 2-0 defeat in Watford.
"There was no intent or urgency to make us win this game," said a hugely disappointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
"The first half it could easily have been my testimonial. It was very subdued, slow, no tempo, and in the end we gave them two goals."
With Newcastle winning at home to Crystal Palace it means the hosts go into this game level on points with the Magpies.
That represents some overachievement on Newcastle's part but massive underachievement from a Man Utd perspective.
It means this can be billed a mid-table fixture between eighth and ninth.
Magpies have history to overcome
Newcastle have already taken the scalp of Manchester United this season after Matty Longstaff's low drive secured a 1-0 win at St. James' Park.
But the Magpies haven't done the double over the Red Devils since 1930/31. Even if we go post-war, Newcastle have won just one of the last 34 away league games at Old Trafford (2013) so this has been an unhappy hunting ground.
In fact, visiting fans will need to wipe out recent history too as they've lost their last four games on Boxing Day by an aggregate of 1-9 and no side has lost more matches (13) on December 26 since the start of the Premier League.
Steve Bruce has certainly done enough to suggest that Newcastle can shake off the past this time and they head to Manchester on the back of three wins in their last four.
And with Miguel Almiron finally scoring his first goal for the club on his 27th appearance - the winner against Palace last time - perhaps the away side are in the mood for rewriting some more records.
Allan Saint-Maximin, Matt Ritchie, Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark will all miss the trip but they've performed impressively without that key quartet.
Home advantage could be decisive factor but hosts no value
Not only are the two sides locked on 25 points, they've also got the same home and away split.
And given that both have taken 64% of their 25 points in front of their own fans and have identical home records of won four, drawn four, lost one, the fact that this game takes place in Manchester rather than Newcastle may ultimately be the deciding factor.
That said, it's a very loyal fan who thinks the 1.384/11 on a Man Utd win is worth taking given how insipid they were at Watford.
Newcastle may have lost six on the road but they've managed wins at Spurs and Sheffield United (both higher in the table than Man Utd) as well as West Ham so can certainly be seen as a value punt at 109/1.
The Draw is 5.49/2 although Newcastle haven't had any of those in their nine away games.
Goal quotes look too high
I was expecting something closer to a pick 'em when looking at the goal quotes but Under 2.5 is clear underdog at 2.26/5. That's enough to get me involved.
Only the bottom two have scored fewer away goals than Newcastle (eight) while Man Utd have conceded just nine at home, the same as Liverpool and Man City.
The hosts have scored just once in their last two Premier League - a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Everton - while Unders has landed in Newcastle's last three away games.
In addition, they've met four times since early 2018 and three of those head-to-heads had under three goals.
While the goal line looks too high, the Both teams to Score market looks a fairer reflection with 'No' the favourite at 1.845/6.
Pogba could be the pick
Marcus Rashford is Manchester United's top goalgetter but his 'To Score' quote of 1.774/5 looks short enough.
Instead, I'll turn to Paul Pogba and play him in the First Goalscorer market at 6.4.
While Solskjaer's men were dreadful at Watford, Pogba's introduction as a substitute gave them some life and it was a bright cameo from the returning Frenchman after nearly three months out.
He scored the opening goal seven times for Man Utd last season and, while he could easily become part of the malaise that set in at Watford, there's another scenario where he's chomping at the bit to get going again and will want to show something in his first Old Trafford game since the end of September.
Or alternatively, there's another scenario where Pogba wants out and will be turning it on for potential suitors.
Manchester United haven't lost a home league game on Boxing Day since 1978 (0-3 vs Liverpool), winning 15 and drawing three such games at Old Trafford since.
Dave Tindall's P/L, 2019/20
2pts Under 2.5 Goals at 2.26/5
1pt Paul Pogba First Goalscorer at 6.411/2