Newcastle welcome Manchester United to Tyneside for a Super Sunday showdown. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter...
"The Magpies have produced Under 2.5 Goals profit in 16/26 (62%) games since promotion with 11/26 (42%) banking in the Under 1.5 Goals column"
Newcastle v Manchester United
Sunday 11th February, 14:15 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Main Event
Newcastle in need of a victory
Rafael Benitez felt Newcastle were victims of a "soft penalty" decision as fellow strugglers Crystal Palace came from behind to earn a draw last Sunday. Mohamed Diame had given the Magpies a first-half advantage but the Eagles levelled from the spot after Ciaran Clark was penalised for pulling Christian Benteke's shirt.
In truth, the Toon opened the scoring slightly against the run of play and had to dig deep to avoid what would have been just a second defeat in six games. Newcastle enjoyed just 38% of the ball after the interval and faced 14 second-half shots without touching the ball in Palace's penalty area throughout the entirety of the second period.
New signing Islam Slimani was not selected due to an ongoing thigh injury, while striker Dwight Gayle has now not scored in his last 14 league appearances. Defenders Jesus Gamez and Florian Lejeune are still out of action.
Manchester United back on track
Manchester United bounced back from their 2-0 defeat at Tottenham with a comfortable triumph by the same scoreline over Huddersfield at Old Trafford last time out. Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring for the Red Devils before Alexis Sanchez scored his first goal for the club to confirm the victory.
Jose Mourinho rung the changes after United's limp showing at Spurs with Phil Jones and Paul Pogba both dropped. The Red Devils lacked fluidity and creativity in the first-half despite enjoying 76% of the ball but started the second period with real purpose and deservedly took went on to claim a 17th Premier League success.
Midfielder Marouane Fellaini has had knee surgery and is expected to return by the end of March. Meanwhile, Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic remain absent and Daley Blind has been out with an ankle issue recently.
Toon could frustrate Red Devils
Manchester United [1.66] have W19-D7-L2 of their past 28 Premier League duels with Newcastle and the Red Devils boast an excellent W9-D3-L1 record at St. James' Park in recent top-flight skirmishes.
The visitors have won each of their past eight trips to bottom-six sides but a stubborn Newcastle side could provide problems for Jose Mourinho's men. Man Utd have led at the interval in only three of their past 10 away days and Rafa Benitez's boys have the ability to frustrate their guests.
Newcastle [6.20] have failed to win in eight on home soil (W0-D3-L5) but have lost just twice in their past eight outings - both reverses coming against Manchester City. Their ultra-defensive tactics stalled the runaway leaders and a similar approach could well pay dividends here.
The Toon have trailed at half-time in only three of their 13 St. James' Park showdowns since promotion so it may pay to support the half-time draw at [2.18], as well as the Draw/Manchester United [4.40] Half-Time/Full-Time proposition at more attractive prices, instead of the straight away win.
Go low on goals
Manchester United recorded their 15th clean sheet of the campaign, and their fifth in six fixtures, last weekend against Huddersfield. It was also their 12th (46%) winning Under 2.5 Goals selection and fifth in their previous six matches.
Indeed, each of the Red Devils' last three road trips have featured fewer than three goals and Newcastle following suit in all three fixtures against the Big Six, backing a repeat appeals at [1.80].
The Magpies have produced Under 2.5 Goals profit in 16/26 (62%) games since promotion with 11/26 (42%) banking in the Under 1.5 Goals column. On Tyneside, those figures enhance to 9/13 (69%) successful Under 2.5 Goals selections with five (38%) falling below the two-goals line.
Mark's 2017/18 Profit/Loss
Staked: 112.00 pts
Returned: 128.21 pts
P/L: +16.21 pts
Back the half-time draw @ [2.18] in Newcastle v Manchester United
Back Draw/Manchester United @ [4.40] in Newcastle v Manchester United
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ [1.80] in Newcastle v Manchester United