Forget Manchester United, Newcastle can see off Chelsea threat with Old Trafford win

First things first, if Newcastle draw at Old Trafford then Manchester United cannot finish above them and that fact alone would carry much satisfaction. After all, it has never happened in the Premier League, never happened at all for 47 years.

However with Chelsea it is a very different matter. Out of chaos has come calm and consistency. They are THE threat to European qualification and to see off their challenge victory is the preferred outcome at the Theatre of Dreams turning it into a pit of nightmares for those brought up on Fergie success.

Certainly Newcastle's last result - a 1-1 home draw with Brighton - was deflating and heaped more pressure on Wednesday night because it was two points dropped late on the run-in, but the Mags still go into battle on the back of five wins, two draws, and a single defeat in their last eight matches.

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By a strange twist of fate Brighton, who denied us two crucial points, can now do us a massive favour. There remaining games are at home to . . . Chelsea and Man U. Come on, Seagulls are nifty at nicking things (ask anyone living in Tynemouth) so nick two wins here.

What we are about to witness at Old Trafford is a full-blooded confrontation between two teams which may be united in name and ambition (to make Europe) but are divided by history and sulking ego. That a whole season's work should boil down to a make-or-break match against one another is ironically appropriate.

Can our United make it a hat-trick of wins against their United this up and down season? Newcastle beat them 1-0 at SJP in the Premier League but perhaps more appropriate to this particular fixture smacked them 3-0 at Old Trafford before 72,484 witnesses in the Carabao Cup. No goals scored by the Red Devils, four by the Geordies.

Of course it is tempting fate to dwell upon those two victories but, no, in for a penny in for a pound . . . the Magpies are actually shooting for their fourth successive victory over this particular opponent since our Wembley League Cup heartache having done them 2-0 up here last term. Notice, Man U didn't score again!

Our hosts have racked up a sorry set of figures not normally associated with such a historic club. Erik Ten Hag has broken just about every record he would never want. Just to give you a smidgeon of what has gone wrong: they have leaked a mighty 82 goals in all competitions, their worst since 1971; 14 league defeats represents their most in a PL season; they have never lost more home games (nine) in their history; 23 goals have flown into their net in the last 10 games with not a single clean sheet.

Oh and they need full points from their last two matches against Newcastle and Brighton away to avoid equalling their record for fewest points in a PL campaign (58 in 2021-22).

However it won't be as simple as figures make it look because danger lurks round every corner for Newcastle this particular campaign and we know from experience that when presumption swells in Geordie minds a shuddering awakening can quickly follow. This is, let us remind ourselves, a boom or bust match. An hour and a half of destiny against a wounded beast.

In case the traveling Toon Army should forget what yesteryear was like as we search for back to back European qualification the sight of two former managers from the barren Mike Ashley years inside Old Trafford ought to act as a reminder. Steve McClaren will be sitting on the Man U bench next to the doomed Ten Hag while deep in hospitality Steve Bruce will be returning to the scene of his playing triumphs. May they witness the progress their former club has made since being released from its shackles.