Premier League: Table-topping Manchester United entertain inconsistent Newcastle
Last Updated: 24/12/12 9:16am
Sir Alex Ferguson: Looking for Manchester United to cement their standing at the summit
League leaders Manchester United will be looking to get back to winning ways on Boxing Day when they entertain Newcastle.
United saw their lead at the summit cut to four points over the pre-Christmas weekend, with a 1-1 draw away at Swansea allowing the chasing pack to close in.
The Red Devils are, however, unbeaten in six and have taken maximum points from five of their fixtures.
Just three points have been dropped at Old Trafford so far, and Sir Alex Ferguson's side remain the top scoring side in the division - with the target found 44 times in 18 games.
Keeping an enviable array of attacking talent quiet is the task facing Newcastle on Wednesday, as they look to kick-start their campaign heading into the New Year.
The Magpies are still searching for consistency at the halfway stage, with just five points separating them from the drop zone.
Alan Pardew will be keen to keep his side looking upwards, though, and a morale-boosting showing at Old Trafford could be just the catalyst they need to get up and running.
Sir Alex Ferguson is certain to make changes to his Manchester United starting XI.
Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez, Chris Smalling and Darren Fletcher will be amongst those hoping to be involved, having been benched or overlooked against Swansea.
Rafael needs to shrug off the hamstring injury that kept him out of the Liberty Stadium encounter, but he could come back into contention for a full-back berth.
Gabriel Obertan will be hoping to figure at some stage for Newcastle against his former employers.
The French winger made his return from injury in a 1-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers on Saturday and, with so many attacking talents currently sidelined, he could be offered an opportunity to impress against the side that brought him to England.
Cheik Tiote must serve a one-match ban after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against QPR, while Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring), Steven Taylor (hamstring), Yohan Cabaye (groin) and Ryan Taylor (knee) all remain out of action.
- The Red Devils have won 17 and lost just one of their last 20 Boxing Day fixtures and they have won the last eight in a row.
- Half of Newcastle's Premier League goals scored away from home have been netted in the 15 minutes after half-time.
- The Magpies have gone nine games without a win away from home in the Premier League (W0 D4 L5).
Previous game's starting line-ups
- 1 De Gea
- 2 Rafael
- 12 Smalling
- 6 Evans
- 3 Evra
- 23 Cleverley
- 4 Jones
- 8 Anderson
- 25 Valencia
- 19 Welbeck
- 18 Young
Team taken from Manchester United vs Stoke City (Capital One Cup) on Wednesday 18th December 2013
- 1 Krul
- 26 Debuchy
- 6 Williamson
- 2 Coloccini
- 3 Santon
- 7 Sissoko
- 8 Anita
- 24 Tiote
- 11 Gouffran
- 23 Shola Ameobi
- 14 Remy
Team taken from Newcastle United vs Southampton (Barclays Premier League) on Saturday 14th December 2013
Barclays Premier League
Wed 26th Dec
Everton2 - 1Wigan
Fulham1 - 1Southampton
Man Utd4 - 3Newcastle
Norwich0 - 1Chelsea
QPR1 - 2West Brom
Reading0 - 0Swansea
Sunderland1 - 0Man City
A Villa0 - 4Tottenham
Stoke City3 - 1Liverpool
Barclays Premier League
|16||West Bromwich Albion||16||15|
|17||West Ham United||16||14|