Sheffield United, Arsenal and more recently, West Brom, Manchester United have either lost, drawn or won by very fine margins against the lower block teams. But can they manage to bag the crucial 3 points against Newcastle?
Since the beginning of the year, Manchester United’s results have been a rather mixed bag. From extreme wins to frustrating draws and unexpected losses, there has been a lack of consistency within the results. The key theme in all of this? Teams in the lower half of the table. This has been a recurring pattern within the team under Solskjaer’s reign but has become even more prominent as of late. To simply put it, we just can’t break down the lower block teams who sit deep and defend – and I worry that with more teams realising this, it has become a tactic for them to grab an easy point when they need it the most.
One of the most noticeable patterns in our play against these teams is that we typically hold the most possession but don’t know what to do with it and struggle to create any goal-scoring opportunities. Whenever Rashford, Greenwood or Martial get into the box, they’re instantaneously closed down by a herd of defenders. However, when the opposition has the upper-hand with possession, we are deadly on the counter-attack due to the space available to allow us to create.
On the other hand, I feel that United also go into these games thinking it’s an easy 3 points to help maintain their place near the top of the table. Mentally, they’re too relaxed and switched off which leads to flat, uninspiring performances that inevitably result in a messy scramble in the final 10 minutes to get a goal. But with Manchester City 10 points clear of us at the top of the table and a a 3-goal GD being the only thing separating us from Leicester in 3rd place, the encounter against Newcastle is a must-win.
But will anything change in the clash against Steve Bruce’s Newcastle team? We’ll have to wait and see at the end of the 90 minutes.
One of the most important changes we need to see going into this match is a change in the starting line-up from the ‘trusty’ best 11 we’ve let loose against the lower teams in our previous games, as it’s clear they struggle to break them down.
Here’s how I would line-up tomorrow:
The main change for me is starting Juan Mata for some extra creative flair and to provide a spark that has been omitted in recent matches. We’ve seen flourishes of excellence when it’s come to Fernandes and Mata’s link-up play in the past, so I have faith that if Mata did start today we’d see some magic going forward due to his football intelligence and experience. However, I understand this is a long-shot, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Ole stuck to his ways and played the front 4 of Greenwood, Bruno, Rashford and Martial/Cavani.
Although going into the game United are the favourites to win the 3 points, that hasn’t proved to be the case in our recent Premier League games – so I hope this will be the turning point. Provided we make the changes needed to enhance creativity, I think the game will end with a 3-0 win for Manchester United.
We beat Newcastle 4-1 earlier in the season, so let’s hope we can replicate that again tonight.
What are your score predictions and would you make any changes from the team we played against West Brom?