London: Manchester United’s dismal season lurched into crisis on Saturday after a 1-0 loss at home to Newcastle United condemned the champions to their fifth defeat of the season.
Yohan Cabaye’s goal just after the hour gave Newcastle their first victory at Old Trafford since 1972 and consigned United to back-to-back home defeats in the league for the first time since May 2002.
Having lost 1-0 to Everton on Wednesday, United have now lost as many games as they did in the whole of last season’s title-winning campaign and David Moyes’s side could fall 15 points behind leaders Arsenal before the weekend is out.
United were without Wayne Rooney through suspension, but they restored Robin van Persie to their starting XI following a four-game absence with a groin strain and saw Phil Jones test visiting goalkeeper Tim Krul with an early shot.
Newcastle’s five-man midfield frustrated United though, and it was the visitors who came closest to breaking the deadlock before half-time, with David de Gea thwarting Mathieu Debuchy twice in first-half stoppage time.
United attacked the game with renewed vigour in the second period, but they saw Krul save from Javier Hernandez and Adnan Januzaj before a header from Patrice Evra hit the post.
Newcastle hit the champions with a sucker-punch in the 61st minute, with Moussa Sissoko galloping down the right flank after winning a duel with Evra before cutting the ball back for Cabaye to sweep home.
Moyes responded by introducing Anderson and Antonio Valencia and handing Wilfried Zaha a league debut from the bench, but despite sporadic late pressure, an equaliser would not come.
Van Persie had a close-range header ruled out for offside and Zaha curled narrowly wide, leaving Newcastle’s jubilant fans to taunt Moyes with crowing chants of ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning!’
The dominant team of the Premier League era, United remain in ninth place in the table, 12 points below Arsenal, while Newcastle climb to sixth.
With Arsenal not in action until Sunday, when they host Everton, second-place Chelsea can close to within a point of top spot if they win at Stoke City later on Saturday.
Third-place Manchester City and Liverpool, who begin the weekend in fourth position, will also be looking to make up ground on Arsene Wenger’s side. City visit Southampton, while Liverpool are at home to West Ham United.
Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur will hope to build on their mid-week victory at Fulham when they visit Sunderland in the late game.
Man United 0 Newcastle 1
Crystal Palace vs. Cardiff City
Liverpool vs. West Ham
Southampton vs. Manchester City
Stoke vs. Chelsea
West Brom vs. Norwich
Sunderland vs. Tottenham