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Barclays Premier League – Wednesday 4 January 2012

Manchester United enter the mid-week tie at Newcastle fresh off the back of Saturday’s disappointing 3-2 home defeat to Blackburn Rovers.

Their performance on Saturday was as poor as they have been all season, and with the club ravaged by injuries, boss Sir Alex Ferguson will not relish the trip to Newcastle. United’s defeat on Saturday was the club’s second loss at home this season, and with it, they passed up the chance to move to the top of the Premier League table.

Much of the talk following the defeat has surrounded a certain Wayne Rooney, who was fined for his poor training performance after a night out, and it will be interesting to see whether United’s top scorer returns to the team. Dimitar Berbatov should keep his place, however, after scoring five in his last two games, meaning Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck should drop to the bench.

It will also be fascinating to see who Ferguson picks to play in goal after David de Gea’s horror show against Blackburn with Anders Lindegaard expected to get the nod after impressing in his previous two. Ferguson could also welcome Chris Smalling and Rio Ferdinand back into his side after illness, allowing Phil Jones and Michael Carrick to return to midfield.

Newcastle were well beaten by Liverpool on Friday night, but remain a force at home and will be confident of taking something from the champions. United are always strongest when their backs are against the wall, however, and I expect them to sneak a 2-1 win.

Predicted team: Lindegaard, Rafael, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Jones, Carrick, Nani, Rooney, Berbatov.