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United look to conquer the North East

Wayne Rooney 2014It’s quieter than a nun’s hen party. Like some tragic episode of the Tweenies many are asking where have all the journalists gone?

Last week Van Gaal was the wrong man to lead United, the club was in permanent decline and Ryan Giggs was being stifled by his Dutch overlord.

This week with United sat fourth, five points off City in second place and only one point off Arsenal, it’s hard to argue with the progress that’s been made.

Though the quality of football is less easy on the eye than Adrien Chiles’ baby photos, United have come a long way from where they were this time last season.

The comparisons to David Moyes haven’t completely stopped, but the voices have become more of a hushed whisper.

So United take a trip to the North East after brushing aside Sunderland at the weekend, fans should expect the same this week. Functional, effective, tactical football.

Get the three points and come home.

Manchester United team news

Robin Van Persie remains the only injury to the team, but many would agree United looked better without him in the lineup at the weekend.

Although Michael Carrick was on the bench for the Sunderland fixture, Van Gaal has confirmed in his press conference that the midfielder is not yet ready to start, so his introduction in the second half is likely.

Newcastle team news

Newcastle full-back Massadio Haidara could play despite being forced off against Aston Villa with a knee injury.

However, Jack Colback completes a two-game ban, while Remy Cabella remains out with a knee problem.

Key men

Hell would have to freeze over and Noel Edmonds would have to be sentenced to lethal injection before I’d believe Angel Di Maria would play for Manchester United. But even fewer would expect to be seeing him struggle to impress the Old Trafford faithful.

Di Maria’s form has been pretty dreadful. Something hasn’t looked right with the Argentinian forward for a while and although some blame can be put on his ever-changing position in the team, it’s clear his strangely sized head isn’t in the right place.

Passes are going astray, nothing is sticking at his feet and his goal against Leicester feels like a long time ago.

This is particularly troubling because despite his price tag, which pundits are keen to consistently remind us of, the biggest factor is the expectation of the ex Real Madrid star is that he should be a driving force in United’s top four charge.

Instead it has been left up to Ashley Young to provide the pace, quality of delivery and trickery that many thought were a lost cause.

Young has been in fine form and he should be rewarded with a place in the team that faces Newcastle on Wednesday night.

 

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William Dawson

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