Manchester United saw their lead at the top of the Premier League table cut to just four points over the pre-Christmas weekend, following a 1-1 draw away at Swansea, while reigning champions Manchester City beat Reading 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

And, with their local rivals facing a Boxing Day trip to Sunderland, the Red Devils will be determined to get back to winning ways when they entertain Newcastle at Old Trafford today.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side have dropped only three points at home so far this season, and also boast the record as the league's top scorers, having netted 44 goals in their first 18 games.

United go into the game unbeaten in six, taking maximum points from five of those fixtures.

Newcastle, meanwhile, are still searching for a level of consistency at the halfway stage of the campaign, and sit precariously above the relegation places, just five points clear of the drop zone.

A morale-boosting away win today would go some way to restoring confidence in Alan Pardew's Magpies side, who have only won two of their last six Premier League games.

Manchester United starting XI:

De Gea; Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley; Valencia, Rooney, Young; Van Persie.

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