Manchester United vs Newcastle | Sunday 21st 2021, 19:00 | BT Sport
A few weeks ago it seemed like Manchester United were genuine Premier League contenders but a combination of continued excellence from their neighbours and poor form of their own means that they now trail Manchester City by 10 points.
In reality a top four place should be their ambition, with fifth placed West Ham just four points behind them. The Hammers will have played Tottenham by the time this game kicks off so that may put further pressure on the home side, who have won one of their last five league matches.
That victory was a 9-0 defeat of Southampton, but the run also includes losing a lead with the last kick of the game against Everton, a home defeat to bottom placed Sheffield United and last week’s draw with 19th placed West Brom.
If I was of a Manchester United persuasion I would be particularly concerned with the performances against the leagues poorest sides. Their xG against Sheffield United totalled just over 1, while they only managing 0.57 against West Brom, as their opponents enjoyed the clearest chances.
Manchester United average over two goals a game this season but that aforementioned game against Southampton and a 6-2 home victory against a gung-ho Leeds outfit are outliers to me. Take them away and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have managed 35 goals in 22 matches, at an average of 1.59.
Against sides in the bottom six, United have generally struggled to turn their personnel dominance in to clear victories. In eight league games against them this season, they have just one victory by more than a single goal.
That came in the reverse fixture against Newcastle, in which they won 4-1 despite the game being level after 85 minutes. They have enjoyed 3-2 wins at Brighton and Sheffield United, a 2-1 victory over Fulham and defeated Burnley and West Brom 1-0.
Their opponents Newcastle now find themselves just three points clear of the relegation zone despite winning two of their last four matches. Steve Bruce’s side did look more potent in victory over Everton and the opening stages against Southampton but are clearly going to miss Callum Wilson, who is out for around six weeks and has scored 10 of their 25 goals this season.
While Newcastle have lost 13 of their 24 matches this term, they have rarely been hammered, with their most common defeat being by two goals to nil, something that has occurred in five times already in this campaign. I was also interested to see that 11 of their 13 losses have seen three goals or fewer scored, which makes it clear where my bets are going.
Manchester United to win and under 3.5 goals is 11/8 with Betway, which appears to be excellent value, while the 7/1 Bet365 are offering on a 2-0 home victory looks plenty big enough to me. I did consider United by a single goal but this price is too big to miss out on.