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Newcastle Must Reverse Poor United Fortunes

Newcastle United are virtually safe from relegation but their form is poor and they have had little fortune against Manchester United in recent years.

Alan Pardew reckons one more win is needed for them to be assured of Premier League football next season, but they have won only two of their last 12 games in league and cup and have not beaten United at St James' Park in ten years.

Home and away it is 17 matches since the black and whites were victorious in this fixture and not many people will give Newcastle (5/1 with bookmakers to get the win) much chance as United chase a result that can leave them nine points clear at the top of the table with just five games left to play.

The 1-0 result at Aston Villa last time out for Newcastle leaves them only six points clear of the bottom three and their home form leaves a lot to be desired. They have won just two of their last seven Premier League games at St James' Park and won (5) as many as they have lost (5) in front of their home fans all season.

Newcastle will be without their captain Kevin Nolan, who completes a two-match ban, but midfield colleague Cheik Tiote is available again to Pardew after he completed his own suspension.

On-loan Stephen Ireland is set to make his debut for the home side, but his inclusion has been counter-balanced by the loss of Steve Harper to a knee problem. The veteran goalkeeper has had an injection in his knee and looks set to be replaced by Holland under-21 international Tim Krul.

Shola Ameobi requires a late fitness test on his own knee problem and if he fails to recover then Pardew may line-up with Peter Lovenkrands (9/1 to score first) and Nile Ranger up front as he did at Villa Park.

While Newcastle struggle with striking options, the visitors are again able to call upon the services of Wayne Rooney (7/2 to score the first goal) as his two-match suspension comes to an end. Paul Scholes will be missing as he starts a three-match ban but fellow veteran Ryan Giggs is likely to be given a recall.

United's seven-match unbeaten run ended when they lost 1-0 to Manchester City in the FA Cup at the weekend, but Sir Alex Ferguson will have his side motivated as they go for a 19th league title. (United 4/6 to win the match, 11/4 the draw)

Newcastle are still not safe from the dreaded drop but fixtures do not come much tougher than a United (6/4 with bookmakers to be winning Half Time/Full Time) side still scathing from their Wembley defeat. Rooney has an incredible recent record against the Magpies and his return comes at the wrong time for the St James Park faithful.

A win for the home side would put them safe for another season, while it would also send shockwaves across the Premier League and possibly put the title race wide open once again.

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