2012/13 EPL Preview: Newcastle v Manchester United
Newcastle could be boosted for their clash with Manchester United as Hatem Ben Arfa appears likely to take his place in Sunday’s game.
Coming off an impressive 3-0 victory over Bordeaux in Thursday night’s Europa League clash, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew looks likely to further strengthen his squad by adding the Frenchman, who did not play against Bordeaux.
Ben Arfa had finished serving a three-match suspension from European fixtures, dating back to his time with Marseille, but Pardew did not play him against Bordeaux as he kept something in reserve for Sunday’s clash at the Sports Direct Arena.
“Hatem’s obviously a player that’s important to us,” Pardew said. “He’s been excellent this season.
“But we’ve only got a two-day turnaround before Man United.
“So I have to take that into consideration, but the team will definitely be stronger.”
If the team does happen to be stronger it could spell problems for Manchester United after Newcastle made light work of Bordeaux’s 17-match unbeaten run as goals came from Shola Ameobi and Papiss Cisse along with an own goal from Henrique.
Pardew said the performance felt more like some of Newcastle’s impressive displays from last season, as opposed to their Premier League games so far, where they have been inconsistent.
Although Newcastle beat Tottenham on the opening weekend, they have earned just one victory since against struggling Norwich and were fortunate to come away with a 2-2 draw against Reading last week after Demba Ba’s controversial handball equaliser.
But with Manchester United’s defence still something of a work in progress in skipper Nemanja Vidic’s absence, there could be more opportunities for Newcastle’s forwards to find the back of the net.
Unfortunately for Pardew, while the Red Devils are struggling defensively, their offence has clicked into gear nicely this season as Wayne Rooney and new signing Robin van Persie continue to excel.
Although United shipped a shock first-half goal to Romanian Club FC Cluj in Tuesday night’s UEFA Champions League group game, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side secured their first victory in Europe this season in a 2-1 result thanks to a brace from van Persie.
Rooney was at the heart of this comeback as he set up both goals for van Persie in the first match where they have started in the same side.
The pair will need to be at their best on Sunday as they look to help United return to winning ways after last week’s shock loss to Tottenham at Old Trafford.
The 3-2 result – the first time Spurs have beaten United on the road since 1989 – means Ferguson’s side are third on the premiership table, four points adrift of leader Chelsea, while a win for Newcastle could take the Magpies from 10th on the table to the fringe of the top four.