Newcastle United vs Manchester UnitedEnglish Premier League, KO: 20:00 Dec 27, 2021, St James' Park
MANCHESTER UNITED are pretty much back to full strength for this trip to St James' Park and that's bad news for a Newcastle side desperate for points in their battle against Premier League relegation.
Having seen games against Brentford and Brighton bite the bullet in the last two weeks, United have returned to training and only have Paul Pogba missing through injury.
The Red Devils are unbeaten in six since the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and if they win their games in hand they can jump back into the top four.
Ralf Rangnick has certainly made them more solid at the back, with just one goal conceded in their last three, and that's the kind of record Newcastle will be looking at enviously.
A ropey defence is the reason why the Magpies find themselves sitting second bottom and they have conceded 11 in their last three games against Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester City.
Eddie Howe has Newcastle playing better football but they remain wide open at the back and it's something he needs to fix quickly, with a kinder set of fixtures on the horizon in the new year.
How the bookies view it
It's hard to tell how Manchester United will respond after their lay-off but they are hot favourites at a best 1/2 with SBK. The same firm have Newcastle as big as 31/5 while the draw pays 15/4 at Bet365.
Recent head to head
Manchester United have won their last four games against Newcastle, including a 4-1 victory at Old Trafford earlier this season as Cristiano Ronaldo made his triumphant return (below).
The last St James' Park meeting ended in a 4-1 win for the Old Trafford side but their record on Tyneside is patchy, winning just twice on their last five visits.
Players to watch
Ryan Fraser has been a disappointment since his move to Newcastle but their are signs he could start to flourish under his old Bournemouth boss Howe. The Scottish winger is 9/1 at Betfred for a goal but is more likely to provide an assist and that pays 13/2 at McBookie.
It's hard to look past Ronaldo for a Man United goal, especially after having time to rest those ageing limbs. The Portuguese is a best 4/5 at Betfred for anytime scorer but McBookie have him at 21/4 to net with a header and that could be worth a punt.
Anything else catch the eye?
Newcastle may have been leaking goals but Manchester United only managed to score once against rock-bottom Norwich on their last outing. So I'd be surprised if this was another three or four-goal battering for the Magpies.
This used to be a grudge match when Kevin Keegan and Alex Ferguson were in the dugout but there hasn't been much spice in recent meetings. Under 3.5 cards has come up in the last three so that could be a good option here at 11/8 with Unibet.
This English Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester United will be played on Dec 27, 2021 and kick off at 20:00. Check below for our tipsters best Newcastle United vs Manchester United prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.