Newcastle United-Manchester United Preview
By CHRIS ALTRUDA
(AP) -- Gory, gory Man United.
This was not the Theatre of Dreams that David Moyes envisioned when he was chosen to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
Plummeting down the table while enduring their worst home struggles in eight seasons, Moyes and United face a near must-win situation on Saturday when they host Newcastle United.
United have already dropped 10 points at home this season during the touchline transition to Moyes from Sir Alex Ferguson, exceeding their total from their championship-winning 2012-13 campaign when they lost three times in 19 league matches at Old Trafford. It is the fewest points through seven home matches for the Red Devils (6-4-4) since 2005-06, when they claimed just 12 points and were going through an on-field changing of the guard at captain following the departure of Roy Keane.
Moyes watched as his former club - Everton - came to Old Trafford and left with the full three points on Wednesday, courtesy of an 86th-minute goal by Bryan Oviedo. The loss left United with 22 points - 12 behind front-running Arsenal - and in ninth place on goal differential behind Southampton.
It is the lowest United have been in the table through 14 matches since they were 10th in the First Division in the 1989-90 season en-route to a 13th-place finish.
"It doesn't hurt any more (than usual)," Moyes insisted. "I know they are a very good team, Everton, with very good players.
"You would imagine it is a sore one when it is your old team. That is the way it is."
To make matters worse for Moyes, he will not have Wayne Rooney available after the striker collected his fifth yellow card for throwing an elbow at Phil Jagielka. Rooney's absence means the race for Robin van Persie to be match fit (after the Dutch forward missed his fourth consecutive contest with a groin injury) takes on more urgency as United look for any sort of lifeline to restore their aura at the Theatre of Dreams.
"That's the good thing here, there are always more games," Moyes told the team's official website as he looked ahead to facing Newcastle. "We just didn't reach the standards we would have hoped tonight, but we have a chance to go again."
Newcastle (7-2-5), seventh on 23 points, failed to reach their recent standards in a midweek clash at Swansea City, getting overrun 3-0 in Wales as their four-match winning streak came to a crashing end. An inability to clear a free kick led to disaster in stoppage time of the first half, and the Magpies couldn't find an equaliser before an own goal by Mathieu Debuchy resigned them to defeat.
"It was a disappointing result because I really think we didn't deserve that." manager Alan Pardew told the league's official website while lamenting what he felt were two penalty claims that went unawarded. "We kind of had one of those nights where all the breaks went against us."
Like Moyes, Pardew is hoping for key players to be fit for Saturday. Midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa missed Wednesday's match due to a virus, while Papiss Cisse was a late scratch from the starting XI due to a foot injury.
Newcastle might be arriving at Old Trafford at the perfect time to end their run of misery there after Everton claimed their first away win over the Red Devils since 1992. The Magpies have not won at the ground since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, getting seven draws in 19 matches, and last tasted victory there in 1972.
They were denied a historic win last season in cruel fashion, squandering three one-goal leads on Boxing Day as Man United scrambled to a 4-3 victory thanks to goals by Van Persie and Javier Hernandez nine minutes apart late in the second half.
Updated December 5, 2013