It must feel like ages since Manchester United fans last watched their team play a match. They probably would have waited longer if they knew it would be like this.
The Red Devils are finally back on the pitch against Newcastle United after a pair of COVID-19 postponements, the first league match for the club since December 11. While they have mostly recovered from the COVID-19 outbreak among the club, the layoff has clearly affected the team’s form, and Newcastle has taken advantage.
The Magpies, thanks to the brilliance of Allan Saint-Maximin, enjoyed a 1-0 halftime advantage over a Manchester United side that looks at best rusty, and at worst devoid of all creativity and shape. Both in the attack and defending the counter, the visitors at St. James Park look thoroughly confused and without cohesion. Ralf Rangnick has presided over a pair of 1-0 victories in his first two Premier League matches, but he’ll need more from his side to pull out the three points today.
Sporting News will be following the event live and providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happen.
Manchester United vs. Newcastle live score
7′ – Newcastle – Saint-Maximin
(All times Eastern)
65′ – Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…Newcastle on the break, Saint-Maximin with a vicious attempt on goal, De Gea a nice save. Manchester United has brought on two subs but not much has changed.
Bruno Fernandes into the referee’s book for dissent, Emil Krafth also carded for a tackle. Maguire carded for scything down Saint-Maximin by the touchline. Both teams at 110% effort, but it’s all a bit sloppy.
It doesn’t feel like Manchester United has a manager.
When does Ralf Rangnick take over?
— Graham Ruthven (@grahamruthven) December 27, 2021
Man Utd totally disjointed. Still relying on moments. No pattern of play.
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) December 27, 2021
57′ – Ronaldo is the first in the book for utterly pulverizing Ryan Fraser, earning a yellow card while late attempting to clear the ball but leaving his leaping body trailing behind which cannons through the Newcastle player. Ronaldo isn’t keen with the call, and neither, somehow, is the NBC analyst, but it’s most certainly a booking for a very dangerous play.
55′ – Manchester United with maybe its best move of the match so far and its two substitutes combining. Sancho down the right feeds Cavani all alone above the penalty spot but he mishits the shot attempt and scuffs it weakly to Dubravka. A better hit could have leveled the match.
49′ – Rashford has a hit from distance and it’s a very good one. A knuckler that ducks and weaves, Dubravka is left to make a fabulous leaping save to tip it over the bar.
47′ – It should be 2-0. How it’s not, I don’t know. A fabulous cross right to the doorstep sees Saint-Maximin all alone with the goal gaping, but his touch is right down the middle and that’s all De Gea needed to stop the chance. The Red Devils are hanging on by a thread and the second half has only just begun. Raphael Varane looks like a defender who hasn’t played since October.
Oh my, how did Allan Saint-Maximin miss that!?
— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) December 27, 2021
46′ – Rangnick has made a pair of substitutions to start the second half, an indication of how the Man United boss feels things have progressed. Greenwood and Fred off, Cavani and Sancho in. Looks like Cavani will go up front next to Ronaldo in a like-for-like swap with Greenwood, while McTominay slides into a lone #6 role and the rest of the United attack pours forward.
A new half, the same Saint-Maximin, who is released down the left and runs right at Varane. The former Real Madrid defender does just enough to slow Saint-Maximin down so Fernandes can recover and end the threat, but Newcastle picking up where it left off in the first half. Worrying for Manchester United.
HALFTIME: The better team leads currently at the break, and it’s not who we expected at all. Allan Saint-Maximin’s brilliant goal is the marker, but Newcastle was clearly the more envigorated and more cohesive side in the first 45 minutes.
It’s not even that Newcastle has defended exceptionally well, Manchester United just appears to be utterly lost in the attacking half. Defensively the visitors pulled it together for the most part, but still things don’t appear to be terribly at ease. Maguire was caught out more than once, and Bruno Fernandes was unable to coordinate the attack up front. A new plan is needed for the second half.
Gary Neville: “They’re a bunch of whinge bags” 😳
Alex Telles and Bruno Fernandes debating decisions with the referee, Craig Pawson, as they walk off at the break. But #mufc players need to look at themselves. Haven’t matched #nufc determination and intensity. Varane caught out by Longstaff for ASM goal. 1-0 h-t #NEWMUN
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) December 27, 2021
45′ – With halftime looming, Callum Wilson is the latest Newcastle player down, and it does look to be a significant problem. Wilson limps off slowly under his own power. Hefty four minutes of stoppage time added prior to the break, which is punctuated by Joelinton nutmegging Rashford before a Saint-Maximin shot. The latter can’t help but let a wry smile betray his otherwise firm match demeanor.
Wilson is really struggling, it appears to be a left calf problem, which is concerning. He’s pleading with Howe to take him off before halftime, who obliges, bringing on Jacob Murphy. Replay shows it could be a nasty one, non-contact suffered while completing a nice turn on the ball.
41′ – Man United finally has a big chance, coming off a free-kick, but Dubravka just gets to a bouncing ball ahead of Greenwood who comes flying in with a ninja kick that catches the goalkeeper instead of the ball. Dubravka, who has been one of Newcastle’s best players for the last few seasons, is in some pain. Joelinton also goes down in the aftermath and needs treatment.
38′ – Callum Wilson has the ball in the back of the net, but the offside flag is up. Wilson was furious but the replay does show he was quite a bit offside, not sure what his argument was about. Still, the Magpies send another warning shot across Manchester United’s bow. A second would truly trouble United.
35′ – Harry Maguire, already a culprit on Saint-Maximin’s opener, commits a blatant foul to hand Newcastle a great free-kick opportunity outside the top-left corner of the box. Fraser whips it in, and Telles turns it behind for a corner which is subsequently defended well. Newcastle has been the better side in this first half, there is no debating.
United look sloppy and slow. Terrible idea backing them in their first match back after a 16-day layoff. 🥴
— Jared Smith (@jaredleesmith) December 27, 2021
33′ – Ronaldo makes a fool of himself trying to keep the ball in play on the end line, and the crowd lets him have it. Newcastle has absorbed pressure incredibly well since the opener, and the visitors at St. James Park have struggled to produce much of anything in the attacking third. Ronaldo has received 10 total passes to this point.
23′ – The aforementioned Shelvey roller coaster hits a peak, as he body bags Fred and tests De Gea from a great distance out. The Spaniard saves acrobatically. McTominay requires treatment, and Ronaldo uses the stoppage in play to dramatically eviscerate his teammates for their poor first 20 minutes. He also has a go at the referee.
Man United staff had a chat about body language before the game and the players response is to double down on the posturing
— Adam Crafton (@AdamCrafton_) December 27, 2021
20′ – Manchester United earns a pair of corners but they come to nothing. Red Devils finally asserting a bit of possessional dominance on the match. NBC crew shares a somewhat ambiguous stat that United hasn’t scored a goal from a corner yet this season out of almost 100 corners on the year.
12′ – Joelinton has a go and just puts it wide right. If you couldn’t see the jerseys, you wouldn’t know which team was in the relegation zone and which was challenging for a Champions League position. It’s clear there is some rust for the Red Devils to shake off.
Man Utd currently looking as bad out of possession as they did under OGS. Newcastle terrific and SJP is jumping but this is a helluva tempo to keep up.
— Ian Ladyman (@Ian_Ladyman_DM) December 27, 2021
7′ – GOAL! Newcastle!
Sean Longstaff absolutely PILFERS the ball off Raphael Varane, and immediately feeds Allan Saint-Maximin who produces a brilliant solo effort. The Frenchman is a one-man wrecking crew, slicing through the top of the box and delivering a fabulous effort while falling down that left De Gea rooted to the spot.
6′ – Jonjo Shelvey, the world’s most hot and cold player (it feels like), gets absolutely pickpocketed in midfield and subsequently commits a foul. A bright start for Newcastle overall, but Shelvey can’t be making mistakes like that if the Magpies are to survive today.
1′ – We’re under way! Newcastle nearly had a chance within seconds, but a ball through for Ryan Fraser was just inches too deep and the chance evaporated. Expecting this to be a cagey opening 15 minutes or so.
2:51 p.m. ET: Studio analysts on NBC pre-match show have suggested Newcastle will need to win one in every two matches down the stretch to stay up this season. Not quite sure it’s *that* daunting, as there are quite a few bad teams in the Premier League this season, and the 40-point mark for safety is surely more like 33 as a result. But it does put into perspective the situation they are currently facing, and it will be a tall task to achieve safety. Spending in the winter will come with plenty of risk.
2:45 p.m. ET: Rangnick confirmed that Victor Lindelof tested positive for COVID-19 and thus cannot take part for the forseeable future, hence his absence from the Manchester United squad.
2:03 p.m. ET: Lineups are in. Full lineups below.
Eddie Howe makes a whopping eight changes from the Newcastle lineup that was thumped by Manchester City last time out, shuffling almost his entire defense and changing to a 4-2-3-1. Manchester United has a nearly 100% fit squad, meaning Raphael Varane comes back in at center-back, while Marcus Rashford moves out wide to allow Mason Greenwood to partner with Cristiano Ronaldo. Jadon Sancho is the odd man out, left to the bench.
1:36 p.m. ET: Your matchday program at St. James Park, if that’s your kind of thing.
1:33 p.m. ET: Boxing Day was an all-timer when it comes to goals scored. Will this match follow in those footsteps, or will it be less explosive?
🆕 4.67 goals per game is the highest figure seen on a multi-game PL day so far this season.
We review a festive day of plenty in the Premier League ⬇️🎅⬇️https://t.co/EHJrJFzE3l
— The Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) December 26, 2021
1:25 p.m. ET: It’s not on Boxing Day proper, but Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick getting his first taste of managing around the Christmas holiday, and he’s looking forward to it.
1:00 p.m. ET: While the Newcastle boss looks focused on getting his team something to savor from a festive period otherwise fully Grinch’d, Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick discusses how he managed to keep the team sharp despite significant disruption due to COVID-19.
1:00 p.m. ET: Eddie Howe had a look back at Newcastle’s heyday in the late 90’s when the Magpies battled Manchester United for positions at the top of the table. The fixture doesn’t quite reach those levels as each occupies opposite ends of the standings.
Newcastle vs. Manchester United lineups
Newcastle makes a whopping eight changes from the heavy defeat to Manchester City, chief among them a return for Jonjo Shelvey, who has struggled with a lack of fitness and was the victim of some load management by manager Eddie Howe, but recovered enough to start today. Shelvey had previously played all but six minutes since returning from a two-month calf injury in late October.
Federico Fernandez and Jamal Lewis are both ruled out due to thigh problems, while Paul Dummett has returned to training but is not ready to see game minutes. Isaac Hayden is suspended for yellow card accumulation, meaning Sean Longstaff is introduced to the side. Allan Saint-Maximin is back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench in the last match due to a knock.
Newcastle starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Dubravka (GK); Krafth, Lascelles, Schar, Manquillo; Shelvey, Longstaff; Fraser, Joelintin, Saint-Maximin; Wilson.
Manchester United has dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak over the past few weeks, but it now appears to be a thing of the past, with no known players currently out with a positive COVID-19 test or lingering symptoms. That means manager Ralf Rangnick has a mostly fit squad to choose from, with only Paul Pogba still waiting to fully recover from his groin injury in November.
Anthony Martial, a potential January transfer departure, does not make the bench, but Aaron Wan-Bissaka returns among the substitutes. Raphael Varane is also available from his thigh injury in late November and starts.
Left back Luke Shaw hasn’t played since late November as well, and he is on the bench with Alex Telles holding down his starting left-back spot.
Man United starting lineup (4-4-2): De Gea (GK); Telles, Maguire, Varane, Dalot; McTominay, Fred, Fernandes, Rashford; Ronaldo, Greenwood.
How to watch Manchester United vs. Newcastle
- Date: Monday, Dec. 27
- Time: 3 p.m. ET
- TV channel: USA Network
- Spanish-language TV: Universo
- Streaming: fuboTV (free 7-day trial), NBCSports.com (authenticated users)
The Monday afternoon match between Manchester United and Newcastle from St. James’ Park will be broadcast on USA Network (English) and Universo (Spanish) in the USA.
Man United vs. Newcastle betting tips, picks
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
Manchester United is obviously a heavy favorite, but not as heavy as one might expect going up against a squad that’s shipping goals across its Premier League schedule; the COVID-19 layoff seems to be weighing on bettors.
The Red Devils haven’t played in two weeks, and they’re also going to have a very difficult calendar to navigate in the coming months. For that reason, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rangnick play a tad more conservatively in games the Red Devils don’t need a full frontal assault to collect all three points.
We’d have hoped for a bigger differential on the handicap, so the tastier option may be the total goals under. With three games in seven days, Man United could opt to manage the game — and its energies — against an opponent it should easily dominate. There are tougher fixtures on the horizon.
Pick: Under 2.5 total goals (+125)
Prediction: Newcastle 0, Manchester United 1
- Moneyline: Newcastle +600 / Draw +380 / Man United -220
- Spread: Man United -1.5 (+140) / Newcastle +1.5 (-160)
- O/U 2.5 total goals: Over -150 / Under +125
- Both teams to score: Yes -130 / No +100