Two of the Premier League’s prime top-four contenders lock horns today when highflying Newcastle host a rejuvenated Manchester United at St. James’ Park in a tussle that should have supporters on the edge of their seats on Tyneside.
Eddie Howe’s Magpies will be determined to exact some revenge for their Carabao Cup Final reverse to United in February and having tasted defeat just once in 13 assignments on home soil this term, the omens for the hosts look good.
You can dive head first into my stats pack for today’s game below, which is packed to bursting with all manner of statistical angles to help you stuff your bet builder with savvier selections. Have a read of my Stats Pack Guide for some extra pointers if you need them.
Keeper Nick Nope and key centre-half Sven Botman returned to training late last week and both players are almost certain to feature from the outset today. With Paraguayan international Miguel Almiron sidelined, Eddie Howe will be forced into a slight reshuffle further up the pitch, however.
Brazilian Joelinton could move into the Magpies’ forward line with Joe Willock drafted into midfield, though Jacob Murphy could be chosen as a more natural replacement for Almiron on the right. In that scenario, Joelinton would retain his slightly deeper berth.
With Casemiro just half way through his four-game ban, Erik ten Hag must choose between Fred, Scott McTominay and Marcel Sabitzer to anchor United’s midfield at St. James’ Park. McTominay’s goal-scoring heroics for Scotland during the international break could win him that spot ahead of his competitors.
Marcus Rashford trained on Friday, which should mean he starts on the left flank today with Wout Weghorst likely to lead the line again. Anthony Martial could rejoin the matchday squad following another lengthy spell out, while Jadon Sancho might have to be content with a place on the bench again.
Newcastle’s defensive metrics for the campaign jump off the page and the Magpies’ unlikely push for a top four finish has undoubtedly been built on their ability to keep things tight at the back. Newcastle have the Premier League’s best defensive record by some distance this season, while only Man City have a better xG against per 90 figure since August.
Eddie Howe’s troops are also the top tier’s corner kings, winning more of them than any other outfit in the division. Earning corners and set plays is clearly a part of Newcastle’s gameplan under Howe and the hosts look a snip at 8/13 to win more of them than Man Utd this afternoon.
Most of Manchester United’s underlying stats for the season are leaning in the right direction, though they are still picking up far more cards than they would like. In two previous encounters with Newcastle this season, United collected a bone-crunching nine cautions – a tally which suggests there is value in backing them at 5/6 to amass over 2.5 cards today.
United have conceded almost twice as many goals as Newcastle this season, though three meaty defeats to Brentford, City and Liverpool have muddied the waters slightly there. They have conceded one or fewer goals in 19 out of 26 Premier League assignments in 2022/23 overall, and the Red Devils kept Newcastle off the scoresheet in each of the sides’ two previous tussles this term.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Big-money acquisition, Aleksandar Isak, has been a dynamic presence for Newcastle when fit and firing, and the 23-year-old Swede has registered a least one attempt on target in five of his last seven runouts for the Magpies. At 1/4 to clock 1+ shots on target today, the prices are a bit skinny, though Isak could still be a great coupon-filling option.
Man Utd have found it hard to keep a lid on the physically imposing Joelinton this season. The Brazilian has racked up five attempts across two appearances against the Manchester giants since August and the 26-year-old is even money to lodge three or more attempts again this afternoon.
Marcus Rashford has been carrying the Manchester United attack for much of the season and the red-hot 25-year-old, who has been averaging 1.35 shots on target per 90, is keenly priced at 4/9 to test Nick Pope with just one accurate attempt today.
Elsewhere, much-maligned winger Antony could be one to watch. The 23-year-old started both previous meetings with Newcastle this season and had two shots on target on each occasion. The former Ajax starlet carries odds of 8/13 to hit 1+ shots on target at St. James’ Park.
Player Goals and Assists
With six goals in ten Premier League appearances during a stop-start maiden campaign, Alexander Isak’s record suggests he is Newcastle’s biggest dangerman on Sunday and the Swedish international is priced at 9/5 to convert another chance anytime against Man Utd.
Calling back my earlier line on Newcastle’s love for set-pieces brings Kieran Trippier and his superb delivery into play. The 32-year-old is unmated for league assists for the Magpies in 2022/23 (five) and the England man is 12/5 to lay on another goal for a teammate this weekend.
Where would Man Utd be this season without the ferocious finishing of Marcus Rashford? The club’s prized asset has lodged 19 goal contributions in all competitions since the turn of the year, one of which was notched with a deflected finish against Newcastle in the Carabao Cup Final.
At 5/4 to either score or assist against the Magpies again, Rashford represents excellent value, especially when you compare the forward’s output to some of United’s other misfiring attacking players.
Newcastle rank just behind Man Utd for average possession held per Premier League fixture this season, though the Magpies’ figures do climb to slightly higher reaches at home and they enjoyed a whopping 61.4% of the ball in the Carabao Cup Final.
The usual suspects, Tripper, Schar, Botman and Guimaraes all played 50 or more passes in Newcastle’s Wembley defeat and there is a smidgin of value in backing Brazilian Guimaraes at 2/5 to beat that target again later on. The rest of that trio offer little to entice with odds ranging from 1/5 into 1/8 in the same market.
United’s work on the ball has improved under Erik ten Ha, but an even split of the possession pie is probably the best they can hope for at St. James’ Park today. Fellow lefties Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martinez have been pinging the ball with precision this season, though Shaw has struggled to reach 50 passes in five of his last six appearances.
World Cup winner Martinez has cleared that barrier in seven of his last 11, though he hasn’t gone far beyond that and at 1/10 in the 50+ passes stakes, there is little reason to add him to your bet builder unless you’re constructing a colossus. With the suspended Casemiro’s replacements way below his standard, it’s best to avoid any of United’s midfielders here too.
Newcastle right-back Kieron Trippier will be tasked with shackling the dangerous fellow England international Marcus Rashford today, which is no easy remit. Tipper committed two fouls in the Carabao Cup Final against the Red Devils and the 32-year-old could be a decent addition to your coupon at 1/3 to sin at least once later on.
On the opposite side, Dan Burn, who gave away a free kick in the cup final and was booked at Old Trafford in October is the same price as Trippier in the 1+ fouls stakes.
With Joelinton’s position on the pitch a little up in the air, Bruno Guimaraes could be Newcastle’s prime candidate in midfield to be in the wars. The Brazilian is even money to commit 2+ fouls and 11/4 to be shown a card.
Marcus Rashford (fouled 0.76 times p/90), fellow winger Antony (1.34) and Portuguese schemer Bruno Fernandes (1.12) tend to draw plenty of unwanted attention from their markers for different reasons and all three could be targeted again at St James’ Park.
Rashford’s pace should unsettle 32-year-old Tripper on the left, while the diminutive Antony can twist and turn Dan Burn into submission on the right. Fernandes meanwhile could be bruised in the battle of the Brunos against Guimaraes.
Match-Ups to watch
Kieran Trippier vs Marcus Rashford
Bruno Guimaraes vs Bruno Fernandes
Dan Burn vs Antony
Manchester United Cards
With Casemiro suspended, Scott McTominay could be called upon to bring physicality to United’s midfield today and the Scottish international is usually a bit of a foul machine when selected. McTominay has been committing 2.29 fouls per 90 this term and the 26-year-old is 5/6 to exact at least two more this afternoon.
A little further back, both Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw could be stretched by the acceleration of rapid pair, Alexander Isak and Allan Saint-Maximin. Martinez can be backed at a generous 1/2 to commit just one foul, while Shaw – who was booked in the Carabao Cup Final – is 15/8 to have his name taken again.
Allan Saint-Maximin is one of the Premier League’s most exciting dribblers and the Frenchman’s close control and silky technique can make just about any fullback look silly. Saint-Maximin will run at Luke Shaw at every opportunity and the potential for fouls there is high.
Similarly, Alexander Isak, who has been fouled 1.16 times per 90, has vastly superior pace than Lisandro Martinez and if the Swede puts his foot down, the Argentinean defender might have to draw from his bag of dark arts. In midfield, Sean Longstaff gets through a ton of work and his in-your-facestyle of play could frustrate Scott McTominay.
Match-Ups to watch
Scott McTominay vs Seasn Longstaff
Lisandro Martinez vs Alexander Isak
Luke Shaw vs Allan Saint-Maximin
My bet builder picks of the pack
I’ll be putting a bet builder together for this one once lineups are announced, so make sure to keep an eye out on my Live Tips Page so that you don’t miss out. You’ll also be able to see all my other bets for the day as well.