Phil Jones fears Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko

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Manchester United defender Phil Jones is wary of the threat posed by France international Moussa Sissoko this week prior to Wednesday’s Premier League encounter against Newcastle United at St James’ Park.

Speaking to MUTV, Jones has identified Sissoko as Newcastle’s main man and expects a big performance from the 25-year-old who has been linked with a move to Arsenal and Chelsea in recent months.

England international Jones is also expecting a difficult night against the Magpies - even though the north-east outfit have won just one of their previous four Premier League fixtures.

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Jones expects tough match

"It's a very difficult place to go, especially for a night game," the defender commented. "It's a big crowd, big stadium, big pitch. It's always tricky up there as you don't know what to expect at times.

“Perhaps the unexpected is in their favour so we have to be wary of them and go into the game positively.”

Jones wary of Sissoko

And on Newcastle’s main threat, Jones added: "I think Sissoko is a big player for them.

“He's a powerful runner, very aggressive and strong - he is probably their main man.

“We'll also be shown clips [from last season's match] on what was good about our performance and how we can improve. We dominated that game without being in the best of form. We went there and played well and won 4-0. Hopefully we can have a repeat of that."

Mata instrumental at St James' Park last season

If United boss Louis van Gaal analyses the video from last season’s clash at St James’ Park - which one suspects he will - he will see that the out-of-favour Juan Mata was instrumental for the Red Devils that afternoon.

The Spanish playmaker scored two goals, either side of half time, and provided the assist for Adnan Januzaj’s late injury-time strike as United recorded one of their most impressive victories under David Moyes’ management.

Mata has played just 31 minutes of his side’s previous four Premier League fixtures and has not started and finished a match for the Red Devils since the 1-0 defeat to Southampton on January 11.

The 26-year-old must be fearing that his days at Manchester United are already numbered, 14 months after joining the Red Devils from Chelsea, but may have the chance to impress on Wednesday evening.

Falcao must be benched; Rooney must start upfront

With Robin van Persie injured and Radamel Falcao still struggling - despite his assist against Sunderland at the weekend - Van Gaal might be better off playing Wayne Rooney on his own upfront with Mata in behind the United and England captain.

Rooney scored both goals in United’s 2-0 win over the Black Cats and looks far more effective upfront following his disappointing three-month spell in central midfield.

Mata, meanwhile, has scored five goals and contributed three assists in the Premier League this season and will surely find himself back in United’s starting line-up before long.

The Red Devils have lacked creativity in recent weeks but Mata has the quality to rectify the situation, starting against John Carver’s side.

Will Man United beat Newcastle on Wednesday? Post your score predictions in the comments below!

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Premier League
Phil Jones
Manchester United
Newcastle United

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