Saturday marks the much-awaited return of the Premier League, as the international break that managers and players alike have mixed feelings about comes to an end.
Old Trafford will witness their Red Devils clash against Newcastle United in an encounter that will be a crucial opportunity for both teams to secure some much-needed points.
Jose Mourinho’s men will start at the back of a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea, which saw their second place turn very flimsy. Tied at points with Tottenham, they are a mere defeat away to kissing an already eight-point long pursuit goodbye.
However, Mourinho gave some much needed good news awaiting supporters when he revealed that three injuries that have plagued them for quite a while will make a return.
Ibrahimovic, Pogba, and Rojo are all match fit, although it is likely that they will function primarily as substitutes before they are thrown into regular first-team action.
Ibrahimovic’s return will mean that United will be able to provide some relief to a drought-stricken Lukaku, and more importantly, they will regain their goal-scoring prowess which was displayed at the start of the season.
Similarly, Pogba’s return to their midfield will arguably stabilize the entire side, and the swagger with which a typical Mourinho side should function will certainly see a comeback.
However, for this Saturday, it is likely that Fellaini, another prodigal return, will get the start ahead of Herrera, while the Spaniard might not even feature owing to Pogba’s presence.
Lastly, against Newcastle, and also due to performance over the international break, it would be the logical decision to start Martial over Rashford and give the young Frenchman a chance to fully work his magic.
However, Mourinho is notorious for being off-handed when it comes to changing teams, so that too, will remain in question.
Manchester United’s most probable starting lineup:
Goalkeeper: De Gea
Defense: Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Young
Midfield: Matic, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan, Mata, Martial
11th placed Newcastle will go into the encounter slightly intimidated. The fixture will be their first in a season that is yet to see them go up against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City.
As a result, they have still maintained a fairly decent defensive record, but have lacked horribly at the front, having netted only 10 goals so far.
Even their backline will now be thrown into confusion, as skipper Jamaal Lascelles is sidelined with an ankle injury. Meanwhile, wideman Christian Atsu is out for up to two weeks with a thigh injury.
Manager Rafa Benitez will instead have to rely on regulars Ritchie, Hayden and Shelvey in midfield to try and salvage anything realistic out of the outing. All in all, this will be their first major test in the campaign, and it is unlikely that they’ll allow Old Trafford enjoy a very easy victory.
Newcastle United’s most probable starting lineup:
Defense: Yedlin, Clark, Lejeune, Manquillo
Midfield: Ritchie, Hayden, Shelvey, Murphy
Strikers: Gayle, Joselu
Will Newcastle make it three defeats in a row and provide a much needed three points to United or is an upset at hand for Mourinho?
Written by Naveen Kelvin
A writer trying to craft the poetry within football. Purpose in life is to Make Good Art.