Manchester United will fancy their chances of following a morale-boosting draw with Bayern Munich with a win at injury-hit Newcastle United on Saturday.
Defending champions Bayern dominated Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg, but Nemanja Vidic’s header 13 minutes into the second half gave United a shock lead.
Bastian Schweinsteiger’s clinical finish nine minutes later ensured the Bavarian giants secured a 1-1 draw, but a spirited display from United – who had been widely tipped to be beaten comfortably – gave manager David Moyes heart.
Moyes vowed to go “toe-to-toe” with the Bundesliga champions in the second-leg at the Allianz Arena next Wednesday, but he must first turn his attention to Saturday’s Premier League trip to St James’ Park.
United suffered a 1-0 defeat against Alan Pardew’s side at Old Trafford back in December to pile more pressure on Moyes, after his former club Everton had consigned them to another home loss three days earlier.
But the Premier League champions will be up against a very different Newcastle side to the one that gave the north-east club their first win at United since 1972.
Match-winner Yohan Cabaye moved on to Paris Saint-Germain in the January transfer window, while Pardew this week bemoaned an injury crisis that has hit the club.
Goalkeeper Tim Krul (shoulder), right-back Mathieu Debuchy (groin), midfielder Moussa Sissoko (thigh) and striker Loic Remy (ankle) are all unavailable, hampering Newcastle’s chances of turning their fortunes around following heavy defeats against Everton and Southampton.
A 4-0 hammering at his former club Southampton last Saturday inflicted more woe on Pardew, who will have to watch from the stands once again as he continues to serve a touchline ban for headbutting Hull City midfielder David Meyler.
And the Newcastle manager knows his side could be up against it once again this weekend.
“It’s difficult because Man United have had a little upsurge,” he said. “They were terrific against Munich and will bring that bounce to our place.
“We’re coming off a very poor performance. Everything points to them being favourites to win this game, but we have to prove that wrong.”
While United have endured some miserable results at Old Trafford, they have a good record on their travels in the top flight this season.
No side can boast more league victories on the road in the league this term than United’s total of nine and they have come out on top in their last three away games without conceding a goal.
Left-back Patrice Evra will be back in contention after sitting out the clash with Bayern due to suspension, but Ryan Giggs (groin) and Rafael da Silva (hamstring) could miss out.
Robin van Persie (knee) will definitely not feature, but Moyes will be hoping Jonny Evans (calf) and Chris Smalling (hamstring) are available to return.