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Starting XI: Manchester United vs. Newcastle United

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Can United get over its inability to beat up teams facing relegation?

Chelsea v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Adrian Dennis - Pool/Getty Images

Everything that you need to know ahead of Sunday’s match:

(1) Manchester United messed around and bullied Real Sociedad to the tune of an 0-4 victory in Turin, Italy. Even better for the Reds, the match was considered Sociedad’s home match, and United will need to put together a PSG-level collapse at Old Trafford to crash out of this round of the Europa Thursday Champions League.

(2) Bruno Fernandes was massive on Thursday, as the magnifico broke the stalemate and then doubled the lead as the match opened up and, ultimately, set off the avalanche for United. He’s now over 20 goals on the season, but he continued to reiterate he’s got his eye on something other than his gaudy numbers.

If you don’t mind, Mr. Fernandes, please continue to score, too. Plz.

(3) Bruno wasn’t the only player who went off against Sociedad. My son, Daniel James was immense playing on the right-wing, and he even got the seal of approval from fellow TBB staff writer, Pauly Kwestel. James was active in the attack and netted a goal and assisted another. Had Mason Greenwood not been a hair offside, James would have scored a brace.

If he can build on Thursday’s performance, that will be huge both for United’s second half of the season as well as James’ future with the club.

(4) The last time Manchester United and Newcastle United faced each other, it was a weird match at St. James Park back in October. You’ll remember that United scored all five goals in the 1-4 result that included a Luke Shaw own goal in the second minute, a Harry Maguire equalizer in the 23rd minute, and then three goals in the 86th, 90th, and 90+6 minutes.

(5) Newcastle hasn’t gotten any better since October as the Magpies sit 17th with only a six-point gap between them and the relegation zone. They’ve only scored 25 goals while conceding 40. So, of course, they sit in a weird zone where they will either completely stifle the Reds or get smashed for a bunch of goals.

(6) Callum Wilson IS the attack for Newcastle as he leads with 10 goals and five assists. However, the striker is out with a muscle injury, and the next highest scorer is midfielder Miguel Almiron (shoutouts MLS) with only four goals.

(7) United legend Steve Bruce heaped praise on his former club as his current club prepares to play on Sunday. C’mon, Brucey. Tank this one for your old club, aye?

(8) Solskjaer provided injury updates in the lead-up to Sunday. Pogba is still out for the foreseeable future while McTominay appears to be a scratch after picking up a knock against Real Sociedad. However, Cavani and van de Beek could be available, and Cavani, especially, would be an interesting addition to the attack as he was not in the 18 in the first matchup with Newcastle.

“Of course, Paul is out and Phil is out. I don’t know how Scott is. I don’t know how Donny and Edinson will be either. They’ve got a chance, I think, so we’ve just got to give them until before training on Saturday as we need to pick a team on Saturday. We’ll see how they are and hopefully they can both be available.”

(9) The match against Newcastle presents an opportunity to give some key players like Fernandes and Rashford a rest. Moreover, our own Tom Britten is ready for a whole lotta Mata against the Magpies.

“Mystery unsolved, the diminutive Spaniard is back and boy do United need him. Mata replaced Bruno Fernandes on 83 minutes on Thursday and should start against Newcastle in the same position. Fernandes might be unbreakable but, rather than test that theory too far, United have the opportunity to protect him in the next two fixtures after a gruelling few months.”

(10) Unrelated to the match, but recent United MUFC news includes a new film for us to anticipate.

The bit about it premiering in cinemas seems a bit hopeful, but we at The Busby Babe can’t wait to watch it in our bunkers during what will be like the 27th lockdown because too many unvaccinated people will regain their complacency as the vaccination numbers go up. Anyways, shout-outs to Sir Alex Ferguson and to wearing masks.

(11) ALSO