Of the top 14 clubs in last season’s Premier League, Newcastle have so far faced only one of them away from home.
Southampton ended up eighth last season and Newcastle put in a decent performance and arguably deserved to win, rather than draw.
The next four away matches are against Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, plus a grim looking Tuesday night at West Brom (10th last season) in late November.
This is where Rafa’s players need to show they have what it takes to keep the club safe this season.
As the table stands now, Newcastle have played three of the current top 10 away from home, losing all three, losing all three of them 1-0.
Burnley, Brighton and Huddersfield were all close games that could have gone either way, Saturday’s though has the capacity to go very wrong.
Even with some star names missing, Manchester United are still a very good team, even if not the same level as their City rivals.
The last (Man Utd) home game was a win over Tottenham and their season so far at Old Trafford in the Premier League reads: played five and won five, scored 15 and conceded zero.
Newcastle will do very well to score a goal and even better to get any points.
Two close defeats (Burnley and Bournemouth) isn’t a crisis but being taken apart by Man Utd could then make it look like on the slide to many.
As has been widely reported, Newcastle United have a relatively young side. They need to stick together and almost certainly have to do it without motivational skipper Jamaal Lascelles.
Saturday will be much about character and many of us may be already thinking that a decent display but close defeat might not be too bad an outcome, to keep the mood relatively positive with hopefully easier games to come.
Newcastle haven’t been taken apart by anybody so far and that can’t change on Saturday.
Many of NUFC’s players have earned the right to play at places like Old Trafford by winning promotion last season, they need to grasp the opportunity now that it is here.