"I’m sure Manchester United will rest everybody," said two-time title winner Paul Merson in his weekly prediction column for Sky Sports ahead of the club's trip to St James' Park on Saturday, April 5 where they tackle Newcastle United.
The match-up sees ninth place in the Premier League take seventh in a game that, Merson opines, has little end-game reward for the victor as both are well outside the top four spots that will secure a prestigious passage into the Champions League next season.
United, meanwhile, still have European football to participate in this season and, thanks to their 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich at Old Trafford earlier this week, have provided themselves a strong opportunity to get a positive result at the Allianz Arena for the return leg in Germany on Wednesday.
Their season relies on success mid-week. As such, Merson believes the priority should be placed there rather than on Saturday and so a rotation policy should be utilised by manager David Moyes.
He continued: "They are in with a chance of getting to a Champions League semi-final, so what’s the point of going to Newcastle and playing the first team? They can’t win the league or get in the top four, so I think they’ll play as many reserve players as they can.
"I’d expect to see Javier Hernandez, Nani and Ashley Young in the team and I’d be shocked if any of the big boys play with their season on the line in Munich on Wednesday."
Merson predicts a 1-1 draw tomorrow, even with United's fringe first-teamers, highlighting the current plight the Magpies are experiencing, evidenced by their failure to score in ten of their last 14 fixtures in the Premier League. United also have a strong away record, claiming 30 points from a possible 48.
"Newcastle aren’t doing great, though, so I’m not sure they can take advantage. They won at Old Trafford, but Yohan Cabaye ain’t there anymore…"