Jonny Evans wary of Newcastle threat

 

Jonny Evans remains wary of Newcastle's African jewels despite the Magpies' woeful recent form.

Alan Pardew's men secured only their second win in 12 games with an unconvincing display against QPR on Saturday.

Whereas last season they were scoring goals for fun, this time around it has been far harder, and rather than challenging for a Champions League spot, they have been nervously looking over their shoulders at the drop zone.

But Evans does not feel that is a reason for Manchester United to take it easy at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

The Northern Ireland international knows Senegal duo Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse can cause problems for any defence.

"Those guys are both very powerful," said Evans. "What Newcastle do very well is work the ball wide and put it in the box. A lot of their goals come that way because Ba and Cisse don't give you a minute.

"When the ball is floating around in the box, they beat people in the air and their goal record is what got Newcastle to where they were last year."

United have already beaten the Geordies' twice this term, including in the Premier League at St James' Park with what many feel is still their best 90-minute performance of the campaign.

Evans was one of them men on target, and he accepts it was a performance that set a standard which needs to be followed.

"In the last couple of seasons we have gone away to places like Newcastle and either lost or drawn," he said.

"This time it was very important to win. We were well prepared, had the right mindset and defended well.

"With the goals as well it was one of our best performances of the season."

Defending an unbeaten home record against Newcastle that stretches back to 1972 and boasting a four-point lead over Manchester City in the Premier League title battle, Sir Alex Ferguson managed to obscure an indifferent United performance at Swansea yesterday with his amazing comments about Ashley Williams.

Even by Ferguson's outspoken standards, it was a strident accusation, which Wayne Rooney played down almost immediately.

Yet Rooney has his own issues.

Poor yesterday, he also picked up his fourth booking of the campaign, as did fellow striker Robin van Persie.

It means both Ferguson's first-choice front men are a yellow card away from a one-match suspension.

The United boss will not want to risk being without both men during a packed Festive programme, so it would not be a surprise if one sat out Wednesday's fixture.

In Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck, Ferguson has options.

The same applies in other departments too as Darren Fletcher can beef up the Red Devils midfield, as could Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, who were both restricted to late cameos yesterday.

Rafael needs to shrug off a hamstring injury if he is to be involved, although Chris Smalling would provide an alternative at right-back anyway should Ferguson opt to rest Phil Jones, whilst Rio Ferdinand is expected to return in place of skipper Nemanja Vidic, who started his first game since September.

That would mean Patrice Evra inheriting the captain's armband, with the Frenchman insisting their is no sense of panic at the loss of two valuable points.

"We have to look at ourselves, not other teams," said Evra.

"Next we have Newcastle, after that it is West Brom. And we need to win.

"This is the most important part of the season. It is when we always get a lot of points.

"I am not worried. I am really confident for the games that are ahead."

PA

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