After 16 days without a game, Manchester United return from their absence to face relegation threatened Newcastle United at St James’s Park to try and hunt a top four spot.
After the 1-0 win away to Norwich on December the 11th, Man Utd faced Covid-19 issues, forcing the training ground to close and the fixtures against Brentford and Brighton to be postponed.
The squad has been back at the training ground for a week, with all staff and players recovering from Covid-19, making every player, bar Paul Pogba who is still recovering from his injury, seemingly available for Ralf Rangnick to select, including Edinson Cavani and Rapahel Varane who could return from injury.
Man Utd have played Newcastle already this season, in a historic fixture where Cristiano Ronaldo returned after 12 years away, scoring two goals in a 4-1 win.
Ralf Rangnick has had a solid start to his interim reign, two 1-0 wins in the league, keeping back to back clean sheets in the league for the first time this season, whilst implementing his new high pressing style is a good start.
United’s key player over the last month has been Fred, he has taken well to the changes to the setup, his energy and ability to win the ball high up the pitch has been very valuable for how Rangnick wants his team to play.
Newcastle’s key players to stop are Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson, when they have space to work with they have the abilities to punish defences with their pace in behind, which could be a problem if Man Utd can allow them to play through the high press.
Despite changing manager to Eddie Howe, Newcastle form hasn’t improved, they have lost their last three matches, conceding eleven goals in those games and only scoring once, which has left them 19th in the table and fans desperate for a reaction performance against Man Utd.
The two weeks off has given Man Utd players a lot of rest they are not used to, and has given Rangnick time on the training ground he wouldn’t have gotten, making this Newcastle match a perfect game to showcase if his new tactics has changed this side.