Goal-shy Manchester United head to relegation dwellers Newcastle United on Tuesday night. Luke Moore takes a look...
"Jack Colback is a tenacious midfield player and has been booked nine times already this season, which is not only the most yellow cards in this Newcastle squad, it's the most in the Premier League."
Newcastle v Man United
Live on BT Sport 1
Steve McClaren's Newcastle go into this game against high-flying-yet-misfiring Manchester United on the back of three defeats on the spin. That doesn't really tell the full story, though; all three were narrow 0-1 reversals and in two of those they can consider themselves very unlucky.
This writer was at the Emirates for the 0-1 defeat to Arsenal and the Magpies were the better team for a lot of that game and the Gunners' first shot on target was the goal that eventually decided the game with about 15 minutes left.
The Premier League has no time for hard luck stories, however. McClaren's outfit need to start picking up points if they're to move out of the relegation zone this side of May. If they are to win on Tuesday night, they'll do so without Tim Krul, Steven Taylor, Mike Williamson, Massadio Haidara, Gabriel Obertan and Papiss Cisse, who all miss out through injury.
A run of six games without a win in the Premier League has seen Louis van Gaal's side drop out of that vital top four, and they currently sit in fifth, three points behind Tottenham in fourth. A win last time out against Swansea, followed by a narrow last-gasp defeat of Sheffield United appears to have stopped the rot, however.
United have won on their last three visits to St James's Park, scoring eight goals without conceding so much as a single goal in response, yet Van Gaal is yet to solve the problem of why his team aren't scoring freely despite the amount of attacking talent at his disposal.
Put simply, United fans will never take to their Dutch manager unless he frees up his mentality and allows his players to express themselves. A decent win here will convert a solid start to the new year into a decent one.
The away side come into this as firm favourites (1.865/6) which is perhaps expected given the two teams' respective league position. But do Newcastle, at 5.24/1, represent value?
Perhaps. As I've mentioned they've been unlucky recently and have actually played some alright stuff in those three defeats - they were good for at least a point at Arsenal and conceded in the final minutes against Everton after matching them for the most part. And United are a team flying relatively high but they are a team with such obvious deficiencies that it's hard to make an argument for them at an odds-on price on the road.
The Draw is available at 3.814/5.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
When these two met earlier in the season at Old Trafford, it (somewhat unsurprisingly, given what United are like at the moment) finished 0-0. But that doesn't tell the story of what was happening at the time - United had started the season well and that game at the end of August marked the end of their 100% record. In truth, Van Gaal's men dominated the game, enjoying 69% possession and fashioning 20 shots.
It's easy to see this game also being light on goals though, and Under 2.5 Goals at 1.784/5 looks about right.
Shown a Card?
If United enjoy anything like the possession they had in August, then it stands to reason that Newcastle will be doing a fair amount of chasing. In the Shown a Card? market, one Newcastle name stands out a mile.
Jack Colback is a tenacious midfield player and has been booked nine times already this season, which is not only the most yellow cards in this Newcastle squad, it's the most in the Premier League. If he plays (and he's carrying a knock and faces a late fitness test), he's a must-back in this market at around 2.56/4 or better.
Lay Manchester United at 1.865/6
Back Under 2.5 Goals at 1.784/5
Back Jack Colback to be shown a card (if selected) at 2.56/4 or better (2pts)
Luke Moore 2015-16 Premier League P/L
2014/15 P/L: +4.92pts