Best odds: 5/2
Newcastle are set to welcome Manchester United to St James Park on Sunday afternoon in what should be an interesting eighth-round Premier League match.
Having parted ways with Rafa Benitez in controversial circumstances and replaced him with Steve Bruce this summer, Newcastle haven’t exactly had a dream start under the new manager. After seven rounds, they sit second from the wrong end of the table, with only Watford below.
Although it’s not really a disaster to lose to Arsenal or Liverpool, their run of games includes defeats to the freshly promoted Norwich City, and a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Leciester City last week. They did, on the other hand, manage to pull off a great surprise by beating Tottenham Hotspur in north London, and United’s visit could prove a similar occasion.
Bruce may be able to call upon Dwight Gayle after a long time, with the forward freshly returned from a 17-month spell on the sidelines due to a severe calf injury. Midfielder Jonjoe Shelvey and fullback Jetro Willems could also return having recovered from a thigh and a knee problem, respectively.
On the other hand, the manager will be without the services of Isaac Hayden, who is serving the first round of his three-game ban after getting sent off directly last week for a horror tackle against Leicester. Wide man Matt Ritchie is also out, as is winger Florian Lejeune.
Newcastle may have lost something when Benitez left, but one wouldn’t know where to begin with Manchester United, who have spent the last six years basically struggling to get anywhere near the heights they were regularly hitting under Sir Alex Ferguson. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who played under the legendary Scotsman and was one of his most trusted soldiers, is the fourth in the line of those who have taken the hotseat since 2013, and he is yet to better any of them. The fact that he praised the 0-0 draw away to AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League as a good result shows just how low the bar has been set.
In the Premier League, the 20-time English champions are sitting in 10th place after seven games, having started with an impressive 4-0 win over Chelsea only to fail to beat the likes of Wolverhampton Wanderers, 10-man Southampton, and lose to West Ham. Even in the Carabao Cup they needed penalties to get past League Two side Rochdale.
Solskjaer will be without the services of midfielder Paul Pogba and forward Anthony Martial who are out with an ankle and a thigh problem, respectively, while forward Jesse Lingard is also unlikely to be included in the team having injured his hamstring on Thursday against AZ Alkmaar.
With both these teams not playing too well at the moment, and United being still somewhat better on paper while it’s the Magpies who will be playing at home and in front of their supporters, a share of the spoils seems like the likeliest outcome of this particular contest.
Best odds: 5/2