Will he start? Who knows. Should he start? Probably not, but I don’t know. Do I want him to start? Yes.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been the main feature of about 85% of noise surrounding this game. Manchester United are set to play Newcastle United in their first match back after the September international fixtures, and after gaining 7 points in their opening three fixtures, the Red Devils will sure be eager to break the double digit barrier in their fouth fixture of the Premier League season.
United vs Newcastle has often produced some iconic moments for both clubs in recent times, most notibly Mason Greenwood‘s worldie against them in December 2019 and a 4-1 comeback win that saw Bruno Fernandes notch in to the top right corner and Aaron Wan-Bissaka score his first goal in professional football.Embed from Getty Images
Last time out, the Reds won this fixture 3-1 at Old Trafford, with goals from Marcus Rashford, Daniel James & Bruno Fernandes being too much for Newcastle to handle, even if French skilling wonder Allan Saint-Maximin did equalise for the Magpies, a goal conceded via a set-piece – a theme common across last season for United.
Manchester United are coming in to this game off a fairly positive first three games of the season. As mentioned before, United have taken 7 points from their opening three league fixtures, beating Leeds United in a thrilling 5-1 victory before drawing away 1-1 to Southampton, then beating Arsenal’s away form Premier League record via a smash and grab 1-0 win over Wolves.
As you may notice when clicking on the three linked provided in the above paragraph, there is one common feature – Mason Greenwood is in every photo. Winning the Manchester United August Player of the Month award, he is a man on fire at the moment. He has scored 3 goals across the three games, with two of them being ‘winners’ (against Leeds his goal was technically the winning goal) and one being an equaliser, against Southampton – but more on this later.
Newcastle on the other hand have had a pretty dire start to the season. After losing their opening two fixtures of the season against West Ham and Aston Villa, they managed a 2-2 draw against Southampton, despite going 2-1 up in the 90+1st minute! They have conceded a total of 8 goals in their opening three fixtures and scored four.
All-time football top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo could potentially start against Newcastle for United, however Ole Gunnar Solskjær‘s latest comments have cast some doubt over the possiblity of this, much to the annoyance of both United fans and Fantasy Premier League managers worldwide.
Manchester United have had a boost this week, in terms of availability of players. Both Alex Telles and Scott McTominay have returned to first-team training this week following spells on sidelines. Manchester United have pretty much a complete squad now, with just Marcus Rashford missing as he continues his rehabilitation from both a foot injury and an operation on his shoulder.Embed from Getty Images
There has been some confusion as to if Brazilian players will be allowed to play or not. The latest news states that officially, clubs are barred from playing the Brazilian players who would have usually been called up to their national team for the September break, however there are also reports that clubs are going to ignore this ruling. Managers have stated today that they are still unsure if they will be able to play this weekend.
Newcastle themselves are missing two of their main men, their normal No.1 choice Martin Dubravka and summer signing Callum Wilson, and so have Freddie Woodman in goal for the moment, a man who was on loan at Swansea last season. This could be a slight concern for United if you consider recent history, as more unknown goalkeepers tend to end up having world class performances against United.
Newcastle have been pretty consistent with their tactics and how they line up in the opening three fixtures this season. Each time, they have set up in a 5-3-2 formation, with Jacob Murphy and Matt Richie as wingbacks.
The midfield often consists of one attacking-minded midfielder (Miguel Almirón), one more defensive-minded middle man (Isaac Hayden/Sean Longstaff) and one “box-to-box” midfielder (Jonjo Shelvey/Joe Willock) in any such combination. Finally, their attacking duo has been consistent so far, with Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin acting as a striker duo, however with the injury to Wilson meaning he will miss this weekend’s fixture, Steve Bruce could change up his system.
One To Watch
Ronaldo is the man on everyone’s lips heading in to this game, however I really think Mason Greenwood will be the man to keep an eye on this weekend. With his blistering form giving him 9 goals in his last 11 Premier League matches, he is truely showing why Paul Pogba called him arguably the most clinical finisher he has ever played with. Bare in mind, this is the man who has played with the likes of Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe and Mario Mandžukić.
Aside from his on-pitch form, Mason Greenwood has also had a lovely two weeks rest after he was not called up to the English national team. This break off competitive football can only be a good thing for the 19-year-old, for two reasons: he gets time to work on his own football and continue to learn, and also it gives him motivation to show Gareth Southgate why he should be in the squad for future fixtures.
Start as you mean to go on…
United have started the season well. Although the draw against Southampton was a warning sign that United need to fix up if they are to attempt to challange for the Premier League this season, 7 points after 3 games and sitting 3rd in the table is something to smile about. The squad is one full of potential, fight, grit, and most importantly, good vibes.
Just like the incredible announcement of Raphaël Varane threw United in to a state of euphoria that lead to an opening day slaughter of Leeds United, the signing of one of the greatest players of all time to lead your attack will only boost the club further and show the squad what it is to become addicted to winning.