Manchester United manager David Moyes was in defiant mood ahead of the home Premier League game against Newcastle United on Saturday. The champions lost 1-0 to Everton at Old Trafford on Wednesday, their first defeat in 13 matches leaving them 12 points behind league leaders Arsenal.
Moyes has struggled since taking over from Alex Ferguson in July, and the visit of Newcastle, who had won four games in a row before losing at Swansea in midweek, could prove to be another difficult match. "Four straight wins is a great record to get... but obviously they are coming to Old Trafford and we are going to make it as hard for them as we possibly can," Moyes told a news conference on Friday.
United failed to take several good chances against Everton and were punished in full by Bryan Oviedo's 86th-minute winner which sealed the Merseyside club's first victory at Old Trafford for 21 years. "People who watched the game they would have got lots of belief from it," Moyes said. "There were chances in the game we didn't take. It could quite easily have been very different.
"Unless you are someone who doesn't understand the game too much you would have seen that." Phil Jones could return in midfield after missing the Everton game due to suspension but with Michael Carrick still injured Moyes lacks quality options in the middle of the park.
Marouane Fellaini produced another lacklustre display against his former club and Moyes has been reluctant to start Tom Cleverley or Anderson, placing great responsibility on the shoulders of the evergreen Ryan Giggs.
The 40-year-old excelled in last week's 5-0 Champions League win at Bayer Leverkusen but missed the 2-2 draw at Tottenham on Sunday and failed to shine against Everton's hard-working and organised formation.
Japanese forward Shinji Kagawa is doubtful with a virus, striker Wayne Rooney is suspended and Moyes was tight-lipped when questioned about the prospect of Robin van Persie returning from injury. "You can ask, that doesn't mean I will answer," he said. "We have got a few injuries, like every club," he said.
"The injured players are all making progress and some have a chance (of playing tomorrow)." Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, named Premier League manager of the month for November, is expecting United to respond positively to the Everton loss.
"I think there'll be a reaction from Man United to their defeat and likewise from us so it will make for a game which is quite pressurised," he told the club's website. "Therefore we need to have calm heads in that game - and hopefully we can retain the ball better than we did against Swansea.
"They (United) had gone 12 games unbeaten up until that game so it's not like there's a crisis there. "They've lost a game, which anybody can do in the Premiership at the moment, and their reaction is going to be a little bit larger than ours so I think there's a bit of pressure on them."
Newcastle have not won at United in the league since the 1971-72 season but they should be boosted by the return of midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa and striker Papiss Cisse. "We've got to try and make it difficult for them," Pardew said. "If we can do that and get in the last period of the game we could try and reverse a statistic that isn't very good of Newcastle winning at Man United."
(Reporting by Ed Osmond, editing by Pritha Sarkar)