Alexis Sanchez takes on the Newcastle United defence at St James' Park in February 2018

Your essential guide to Newcastle v United

Manchester United start 2019 with a trip to Tyneside to face Newcastle United on Wednesday night, hoping to continue our impressive form of late.

In our fourth match in the space of 11 days during the busy festive period, the Reds will be looking for a fourth successive victory under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and to begin the New Year on a positive note in our continued bid to climb the Premier League table. 

Here's everything you need to know ahead of our midweek match in the North East...

Newcastle v United: Key match details
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Wed 2 January 2019 | Premier League | St. James' Park | Referee: Andre Marriner | 20:00 GMT kick-off, live on Sky Sports in the UK | Live build-up on MUTV from 18:30 GMT

WHAT'S THE TEAM NEWS?
The Reds were boosted by the return of Anthony Martial as a starter and Romelu Lukaku as a substitute in Sunday's 4-1 success over Bournemouth. Solskjaer has previously suggested that Alexis Sanchez will be available for Wednesday's game after several weeks out with a hamstring injury. Eric Bailly is set to start a three-match ban after his straight red card against the Cherries at the weekend, while fellow defender Chris Smalling is expected to continue on the sidelines as he recovers from a sore foot. It remains to be seen if Marcos Rojo and Scott McTominay will return, after the pair stepped up their involvement in training last week but didn't feature in the matchday squad against Bournemouth. 

HOW ABOUT NEWCASTLE?
Jonjo Shelvey was back for the Magpies as a substitute in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Watford as the influential former Liverpool man made his first appearance since the start of November after recovering from a thigh injury. It comes as fellow midfielder Ki Sung-yeung has departed for international duty with South Korea, who compete in the Asian Cup this month. But Japan have allowed striker Yoshinori Muto, who scored against the Reds at Old Trafford earlier in the season, to head off after Wednesday's game. Boss Rafael Benitez is also set to be without goalkeeper Karl Darlow (elbow) and defenders Ciaran Clark (ankle) and Florian Lejeune (knee) again. 

WHAT'S NEWCASTLE'S FORM LIKE?
The Magpies have largely struggled to hit the heights of last season, when they finished 10th in their first campaign back in the top flight following promotion from the Championship. Our next opponents have won just one of their last seven league games, drawing three and losing three, having won three in a row prior to this recent run. In particular, Benitez's side have found the going tough in front of their own fans, winning just twice at St. James' Park so far in 2018/19 - against Watford and Bournemouth, back in November. Their last home outing was a disappointing goalless draw against bottom club Fulham on 22 December. The Magpies have two further tough games this month in the league, away at Chelsea and home to champions Manchester City. 

HOW GOOD IS OUR RECORD AGAINST NEWCASTLE?
The Reds will take on the Magpies for the 167th time in all competitions on Wednesday night. The first meeting of the sides came back in April 1895, which we won 5-1 at Bank Street in the old Second Division. In total, the Reds have beaten the Tyneside outfit on 85 occasions with an overall win-percentage of 51.2 per cent, while there have been 39 draws and Newcastle have won 42 times. It will also be our 81st trip to St. James' Park, where we were beaten 1-0 in last season's corresponding fixture after Matt Ritchie's second-half strike. However, the Reds produced an epic comeback from 2-0 down to see off Benitez's side 3-2 at Old Trafford in October's reverse fixture, thanks to a late Alexis header. Relive the highlights from that Old Trafford thriller below...

Highlights: United 3 Newcastle 2 Video

ONE TO WATCH
Salomon Rondon has had an impact in his debut season at Newcastle, following his summer arrival from West Bromwich Albion. The experienced Venezuelan striker has led the line well, sometimes on his own, and chipped in with five goals and two assists so far this term in the Premier League. He was also on target in their 3-1 win at Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup second round. Rondon put in a Man-of-the-Match display in the 1-1 draw at Watford last time out, in which he scored a header in the first half and also had two further efforts ruled out for offside. The no.9 wasn't in the squad when Newcastle were beaten at Old Trafford earlier in the season but he'll be keen to add to the solitary goal he's scored in his five previous career appearances against the Reds.

WHO IS THE REFEREE?
Andre Marriner will be the man in charge on Wednesday night. It's the West Midlands whistler's third United match of the campaign but his first away from home, after handling our 2-1 win over Leicester City on the opening weekend and last month's 2-2 draw against Arsenal at Old Trafford. The experienced official has brandished 52 yellow cards, sent off two players and awarded three penalties in 17 games in all competitions so far this term. He will be assisted by Scott Ledger and Simon Long, while the fourth official will be Stuart Attwell. 

Who's their manager?
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Rafael Benitez has been the Newcastle boss since March 2016. The 58-year-old former Liverpool and Chelsea manager has won 53 of his 125 games in charge to date, drawing 27 and losing 45.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE SCORE WILL BE?
Get involved by predicting the outcome of Wednesday's game. Win exclusive prizes throughout the season by playing the Match Predictor.

RIVALS WATCH
All 20 teams will be in action for the first time in 2019 over three days, starting on Tuesday with a lunchtime kick-off at Goodison Park and ending on Thursday night with a mouthwatering showdown between champions Manchester City and current leaders Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium. Here's the schedule in full...

TUESDAY 1 JANUARY
Everton v Leicester City (12:30 GMT)
Arsenal v Fulham (15:00 GMT)
Cardiff City v Tottenham Hotspur (17:30 GMT)

WEDNESDAY 2 JANUARY
Bournemouth v Watford (19:45 GMT)
Chelsea v Southampton (19:45 GMT)
Huddersfield Town v Burnley (19:45 GMT)
West Ham United v Brighton & Hove Albion (19:45 GMT)
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Crystal Palace (19:45 GMT)
Newcastle United v Manchester United (20:00 GMT)

THURSDAY 3 JANUARY
Manchester City v Liverpool (20:00 GMT)

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