Man Utd v Newcastle
Sky Sports Main Event
Title hopes virtually gone but United still have plenty to focus on
Every United slip has been magnified and City have roared 10 points clear after playing their games in hand.
Points have been frittered. The Old Trafford loss to Sheffield United came out of nowhere, they were limp in the 0-0 at Arsenal, Everton pinched a last-minute equaliser and the 1-1 draw at West Brom seemed just about the final nail in the title coffin.
In a different era, that might not be the case but City are back to the levels of a few seasons ago and making up a double digit deficit looks far-fetched.
The starkness of it all is shown in the latest title betting with City 1.031/33 and United out at 9089/1.
Still, there is a Champions League spot to play for and that can’t be taken for granted with Leicester level on points, Chelsea four back and Liverpool six in arrears.
In other words, United have to kick on. This is a prime opportunity for three more points and an excellent 4-0 Europa League win over Real Sociedad on Thursday suggests they’re in a good frame of mind.
Magpies under threat
Fourth-bottom Newcastle may still feel they have a healthy enough lead over West Brom (12 points) and Sheffield United (14 points) but Fulham are the only other team beneath them and the Cottagers are starting to rally.
The gap is down to six and Fulham are picking up points.
Steve Bruce’s men have managed to win two of the last four but widen the lens and it’s seven defeats in their last nine Premier League starts.
And the bad stuff doesn’t stop there. There’s some important Newcastle injury news which could have a big effect on a number of markets.
Callum Wilson misses out with a hamstring injury and that diminishes their goal threat considerably.
The England man has netted 40% of their goals this season (10 of 25) and his absence will clearly hurt a team that was already struggling to find the net.
This is a fixture that Man Utd have dominated. They have 25 wins, nine draws and just a single defeat in the last 35 Old Trafford match-ups with Newcastle. And a more recent take is that they’ve won four of the last five, winning the last two 4-1.
If you come it from a Steve Bruce point of view, the stats are also horribly skewed. Going back to his old stomping ground has only been a source of pain and he’s lost 10 of his 11 returns with just a single draw.
Man Utd are predictably short at 1.321/3, while Newcastle are 1211/1 and The Draw is 6.25/1.
Those basic odds aren’t of much interest but the handicap markets are.
Man Utd have scored 12 in their last two home games while Newcastle are without their main source of goals. Put the two together and it’s fairly easy to argue the case for Man Utd (-2) at 5/2 (Sportbook) and that’s my main bet.
On the Same Game Multi, home duo Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes are obvious candidates for the goalscoring component. Both netted in Man Utd’s 4-1 win at Newcastle earlier this season.
The remarkable Fernandes has five in his last five while he’s wheeled away in celebration in two of his last three home games. Go further back and he has six goals in his last nine Old Trafford appearances.
If Solskjaer’s men do rack up a few, it’s hard to see him missing out.
Fernandes to score and Man Utd (-2) is 4.51 and that’s worth adding in too.
I’ll add in a final bet. There are injury doubts over Scott McTominay, who came off after an hour of the Europa League tie in Spain. “I don’t know how Scott is,” said Solskjaer in Friday’s press conference.
However, if fit, the Scot stands out as he’s scored in each of his last three home games and in four of his last five.
Over 2.5 Goals is the clear favourite at 1.594/7 but the hosts may have to rack them up on their own. That lessens the appeal.
Going a little higher, Over 3.5 is 2.526/4.
In the Both teams to Score market, Yes is 2.0811/10. When noting that Newcastle have failed to score in seven of their last eight away matches in all comps, No looks the better option at 1.875/6.
Luke Shaw has provided five assists for Man Utd in the Premier League this season; his best return in a single season in the competition, with the left-back assisting in each of his last three PL appearances (4 in total). Only three players have assisted in four consecutive Premier League appearances for the club (Ryan Giggs, 5 apps in 2003; Nani, 4 apps in 2010; Antonio Valencia, 5 apps in 2011).