Manchester United v Newcastle preview: It's a big game for Wayne Rooney
By Alex Stevens
Football Insider looks ahead to Manchester United’s Premier League home clash against Newcastle on Saturday as Louis van Gaal’s team aim to continue their impressive start to the season.
KICK-OFF TIME: Saturday, 12.45pm
TV: Live on BT Sport
IT’S A BIG GAME FOR…
Wayne Rooney. “I’ve had one bad game this season and everyone’s all over it,” moaned the surprisingly thin-skinned striker after United’s Tuesday night win over Club Brugge. Multiply that by three, following laboured displays by the skipper in the centre-forward role in all of his matches this season. With Pedro joining Chelsea and United’s pursuits of Thomas Muller and Sadio Mane not necessarily going to reach fruition, far more is needed from a player in whom Louis van Gaal has invested great faith during his 13-month tenure. Rooney was a blunt weapon in United’s pair of 1-0 victories over Tottenham and Aston Villa, proving a virtually invisible penalty box presence. The England international has a fine scoring record against Newcastle, with 11 goals to his name, and he will need to extend that otherwise the pressure on him to deliver will reach unprecedented levels.
PLAYER TO WATCH…
Aleksandar Mitrovic. Has been used as a substitute in Newcastle’s opening two league games but that could be about to change following Papiss Cisse’s powderpuff displays up front. The £14.5million signing from Anderlecht has a fine scoring record and the predatory instincts to open up a United defence that has looked solid in the opening weeks of the new campaign.
A younger, more dynamic Rooney with a full head of (real) hair scored one of his finest United goals with this howitzer of a volley against Newcastle in 2005. Watch the perfect arc of this shot:
Manchester United in 2015/16: W, W, W
Newcastle in 2015/16: D, L
United to win 2/5 (Betfred)
HOW WILL THEY LINE UP…
Manchester United (possible): Romero; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw; Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger; Januzaj, Herrera, Depay; Rooney.
Newcastle (possible): Krul, Taylor, Mbemba, Coloccini, Haidara; Anita, Colback; Sissoko, Wijnaludum, Thauvin; Mitrovic
EXPERT VERDICT… United to maintain their impressive start to the season with another narrow win.