Mark Lawrenson has been reviewing the Newcastle United v Manchester United clash tonight.
A fixture that has seen many classic games with lots of goals, some of them even in Newcastle’s favour(!), is looking like a poor one for neutrals this time around.
A decent defensive display at Old Trafford saw Newcastle hold out for a 0-0 draw, Mitrovic almost winning it with a stunning header, whilst it was our first glimpse of a promising looking Florian Thauvin (whatever happened to him?) who nearly won it at the death after appearing as a late sub.
As Mark Lawrenson points out, Newcastle ‘cannot buy themselves a goal’ and as well as being the third lowest goalscorers in the Premier League, the Magpies haven’t scored in their last 435 minutes of football.
Tonight’s visiting fans aren’t happy as they have only seen their side score more than one goal on one occasion in the last six matches, with van Gaal preferring to go with a safety first approach.
After the years spent watching Newcastle under the likes of Allardyce, Dalglish and others we could empathise but we won’t…
No doubt the BT Sport commentators (guessing TV viewers will have the pleasure of Michael Owen…) will be saying the best thing for this game will be an early goal to get it going and break the two sides out of their negative mindset.
No doubt Steve McClaren won’t deviate much from his usual ultra negative approach but a bit of a shame as going all out for the first goal could pay dividends.
Mark Lawrenson predicts a 1-1 draw but whoever gets that first goal (if there is one!) would surely be heavy favourites with the current lack of goals for both teams.
A point wouldn’t be great for either team, leaving Newcastle still in the relegation zone and Manchester United out of the Champions League spots, whereas a win for either would change either scenario.
Mark Lawrenson speaking to BBC Sport:
“Newcastle were very competitive against Watford at the weekend but missed their chances and went out of the FA Cup.
“There is no problem with the Magpies’ attitude and application but they cannot buy themselves a goal – they have not scored in any of their past four matches.
“Manchester United just about won their third-round tie, against Sheffield United, but they played poorly again and manager Louis van Gaal did not do himself any favours when he tried to defend their performance against a third tier team.
“Newcastle drew 0-0 at Old Trafford in August, in Van Gaal’s first stalemate of the season. This game also has an uninspiring draw written all over it.”