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Manchester United come into this fixture on the back of a two-week break due to a Covid-19 outbreak and should be well-rested this trip to St. James’s Park. They have won two Premier League games out of two under Ralf Rangnick without conceding a goal and are yet to taste defeat in six games in all competitions since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked last month.
They stand a good chance of continuing both records against a wretched Newcastle outfit on Monday. The Toon celebrated their victory over Burnley as if they had won the league but have since lost three games in a row, conceding 11 goals in the process.
They have conceded a staggering 41 goals in 18 league goals – at least five more than any other Premier League club – and have conceded 21 of those goals at home. Newcastle boast the worst home defensive record in the division, while only Norwich have picked up fewer points at home this season.
They have lost all eight games against the big six and West Ham and Leicester this season, conceding 27 goals and scoring just six. Rangnick could not have asked for a better fixture following a fortnight of Covid absentees.
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Newcastle v Manchester United – Monday, December 27: 8pm
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Rangnick has not seen United concede a Premier League goal since his appointment, although that is as much to do with David De Gea’s brilliance as any defensive masterplan. The Spaniard bailed United on several occasions in their most recent Premier League game against Norwich and appears to be back to his best.
However, De Gea’s brilliance may not be required on Monday since Newcastle’s goalscoring record against the better teams in the division leaves a lot to be desired.
They have scored just seven goals against sides in the top half, drawing a blank on five occasions. They have also scored just three goals in their last six games and appear to be struggling to find the back of the net ever since Eddie Howe took his place in the dugout following a positive Covid test in mid-November.
Their goalscoring fortunes may improve after they flex their considerable muscle in the transfer market next month, but they look set for more pain before the year’s end.
Ronaldo has had a mixed impact since arriving at Old Trafford, scoring plenty of goals himself but having a demonstrably negative impact on the forward players surrounding him, including the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood, whose goalscoring output has tanked considerably since Ronaldo’s arrival at the club.
Ronaldo, however, has proved good for a goal since his return three months ago. The Portuguese has scored seven times in the league since returning to Old Trafford, opening the scoring on three occasions and scoring United’s first goal four times.
Six of his seven Premier League goals this season have put United into the lead and it stands to reason that he will feast against a calamitous Newcastle rearguard. Ronaldo has scored seven goals in his last four league appearances and scored his only Premier League hat-trick against them in January 2008.
He can further improve his excellent personal record against the Magpies on Monday.
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Jadon Sancho has yet to register an assist since joining Manchester United in the summer, which is somewhat difficult to fathom considering he made 45 assists in 104 Bundesliga appearances, reaching double digits in each of his last three seasons at Borussia Dortmund.
Sancho struggled for form after making the switch to Old Trafford and wasn’t helped by Solskjaer’s ineptitude but appears to be finding his feet since the Norwegian’s departure. He notched his first United and Premier League goal against Villarreal and Chelsea respectively and was one of United’s most creative players in the victories over Arsenal and Norwich earlier in the month.
He was also one of the few players who left Vicarage Road with their head held high following the chastening 4-1 defeat against Watford last month. Sancho has found a place in Rangnick’s plans and is slowly finding his feet at Old Trafford.
He can cause damage against a porous Newcastle defence that concedes an average of more than two goals per game.
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