Premier League

Newcastle United-Manchester United Preview

Following a rather unthinkable defeat over the weekend, things don't seem too festive for Manchester United.

Perhaps the possible return of star Paul Pogba to the starting XI could help lift United to a bounce-back, Boxing Day-victory on Thursday against a visiting Newcastle United that's hoping to do the double for the season series.

United (6-7-5) were amid a 3-3-0 stretch and feeling rather good about themselves before falling 2-0 to last-place Watford on Sunday. Ismaila Sarr and Troy Deeney scored four minutes apart early in the second half as the Hornets stunned the Red Devils.Whilst reports suggest that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is already looking ahead to the 2020-21 campaign since United slipped to eighth in the table, he also seems confident his club will bounce back in this contest.

Man United have not lost back-to-back Premier League matches this season, and are 3-4-0 at home since losing to Crystal Palace on Aug. 24 - their lone defeat at Old Trafford.

"One of the good things about the team this year, we have reacted well after bad results," Solskjaer told United's official website.

"We haven't kept the consistency as we'd like the other way, but we've also not gone on a big run like we did towards the end of the last season. So, there will be a reaction, definitely."

There is also word from the gaffer that the ailing Pogba could be ready for a Manchester start for the first time since Sept. 30 versus Arsenal. Pogba saw action as a sub against Watford.

"Let's see how he reacts to (the Watford game) and how he feels," Solskjaer said. He did really well when he came on. It's a big, big plus and it might be that we do get him in from the start (against Newcastle) because you just want to get more and more (quality) into the team when he plays."

The Red Devils showed little quality during a 1-0 loss at Newcastle on Oct. 6. Matthew Longstaff scored the lone goal of the match in the 72nd minute. Whilst Newcastle beat United at home for the second time in three seasons, their only victory at Old Trafford over 24 Premier League matchups came in December 2013.

Still, the Magpies (7-4-7), who sit ninth in the Premier League table, are excited for the chance to buck history and do the double over United. Especially since Newcastle are 3-1-0 in December.

"Make no mistake, when you go to Old Trafford, you're going to have to play well. Be brave when you have the ball and pose them a threat," Newcastle manager Steve Bruce told his club's official website.

"We'll enjoy the challenge of taking them on … We managed to beat them a few weeks ago, so let's see if we can do that at Old Trafford."

Miguel Almiron scored in the 83rd minute of Newcastle's 1-0 home victory over Crystal Palace last weekend.

Magpies midfielder Jonjo Shelvey (five goals) had his three-match league goal streak end over the weekend. He's never scored in 12 games over all competitions against United.

Updated December 24, 2019

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