Manchester Utd vs Newcastle Utd 12:45
Manchester Utd are not used to having Old Trafford viewed as anything less than impregnable so Newcastle can expect a backlash following Utd’s 0-1 defeat at the hands of Everton on Wednesday.
Michael Carrick’s reading of the game continues to been excellent this term, unsurprising given that his exceptional footballing brain has been one of his main weapons throughout his career. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he currently ranks third in the league for total interceptions with 42.
Wayne Rooney’s form this season has been nothing short of superb with England’s talisman looking revitalised and back to his lethal best under his new manager after some indifferent form at times last season. As if to showcase his versatile range of talents, Rooney has racked up 7 assists this season, the joint highest in the league, as well as 326 completed passes in the opponent’s half (2nd highest in the Utd squad) and 39 total defensive contributions (blocks, interceptions, tackles won, clearances) according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Despite being injured for part of the season, captain Nemanja Vidic has been leading the way for Utd this season in terms of defensive statistics. He has the highest tackles success rate in the squad, winning an exceptional 94.1% of his 17 attempted tackles this season, as well as compiling 145 total defensive contributions (blocks, interceptions, tackles won, clearances), the highest in the Utd squad.
Adnan Januzaj was recently shortlisted for the Young Sports Personality of the Year Award and the gifted teenager is so far enjoying a season that could see him worthy of the accolade. The 18 year old is the youngest player in the league to have dribbled more than 10 times this season, with his current total sitting at 16. Januzaj is 12/5 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Newcastle’s strong run of results came to an end in midweek as they fell to a 3-0 defeat to Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. They will not view a trip to Old Trafford with the same trepidation of recent seasons though so expect the travelling support to be in full voice from the off on Saturday.
Despite Newcastle’s eventual loss, Cheick Tiote certainly didn’t stop trying to disrupt Swansea’s elegant passing game in the middle of the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday night. The Ivory Coast international attempted the joint fourth highest number of tackles in the last round of fixtures with 8. He will need to be at his combative best this weekend at Old Trafford to stop the effective supply of the ball to the space in between the defensive and midfield lines which Wayne Rooney loves to occupy.
Newcastle fans will be hoping to see Hatem Ben Arfa fit and firing sooner rather than later this season given that the talented Frenchman remains one of their best attacking outlets according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. He’s made more attacking contributions (shots on goal, crosses, dribbles, assists) than any other Newcastle player this season with 50.
Given his recent performances it is perhaps no surprise that Moussa Sissoko’s stats show him becoming one of the most important players in the Newcastle engine room. He’s completed 252 passes in the opponent’s half this season, the highest in the Magpies squad.
Newcastle stalwart Shola Ameobi has been called upon frequently in recent games to provide some experience and physical presence to the Newcastle forward line. He’s also established some solid statistics this season, possessing the best shot accuracy rate (57.1% from 7 attempts) in the squad. Ameobi is an industry best 21/4 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.