Manchester United ‘must make sure they don’t lose’ in difficult Newcastle clash, insists Sir Alex Ferguson

By Pippa Field

As his side seek revenge for last season’s 3-0 defeat, Manchester United manager admits he is not underestimating an in-form Newcastle side.

No team has gone on to win the Premier League title after losing three of their first seven games, and with defeats already to Everton and Tottenham, United cannot afford any more slip ups.

“It’s always a difficult place to go,” said Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of Sunday’s game at the Sports Direct Arena.

“They’ll be buoyed by their support. I think Alan Pardew has a really good team there. After the game against Tottenham we have to make sure we don’t lose.”

United are set to welcome back Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick who missed the midweek Champions League victory over Cluj through illness-with Paul Scholes also in contention.

Defensively, the Reds injury worries have eased slightly with the news that Jonny Evans has recovered from a dead leg-but Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones are all out.

Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie started together for the first time in midweek – the Dutch striker adding two goals to his goal against Spurs – leaving the manager with attacking options.

Sir Alex said: “We played some really good football at times [against Tottenham] and it was interesting to play Rooney, Chicharito and Robin van Persie together. It gives me some thoughts and options for certain games.”

But United will have to address their defensive duties-they have fallen behind in five out of seven league games this season – if they want to keep the Newcastle front line quiet.

“Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse both have good scoring records,” remarked Sir Alex after watching the Magpies 3-0 Europa League win over Bordeaux.

“I’m not sure what the combination will be on Sunday. Ba and Ameobi are both strong, while Cisse has scored some fantastic goals for them.”

One of those goals came in the United’s 2-1 defeat of Newcastle in the Capital One Cup last week – the Magpies only defeat in their last eight games.

The Magpies side expect to welcome back midfielders Hartem Ben Arfa and Jonas Gutierrez as well as Demba Ba who were all rested for Thursday’s game.

A win for Newcastle would take them level on points with the Reds.

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