By Chief Sports Writer, Marley Anderson

Four days after claiming a much-needed win at home to QPR, Newcastle face a fearsome festive test as they travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. Ferguson’s side are coming off the back of a 1-1 draw to Swansea in a game where many people are still talking about the incident involving poor old Robin Van Persie.

The Dutchman was the recipient of a football in the back of the head courtesy of Ashley Williams and prompted Ferguson to come out with the mother of all overreactions, claiming the former Arsenal man “could have been killed”, such as the (accidental) impact.

Ever since then, every man and his dog have had a say on the incident. Sky Sports even tried to top the United gaffer’s overreaction by inviting a neurosurgeon onto the show to give his opinions.

At the end of the day, Van Persie will be fit for the visit of Newcastle and no one has ever died from being hit in the head by a football. Maybe he needs to remember Eric Cantona’s infamous “kung fu kick” on an innocent fan, or Roy Keane’s career-ending stamp of Alf Inge Haaland when he throws around terms as strong as “he could have been killed”…

The Boxing Day fixture is traditionally not a good one for Newcastle but their record against Man United away from home is even worse. The Geordies haven’t won in this league fixture for 40 years, so Boxing Day could once again be unkind to Newcastle.

The task gets harder when the Toon Army are without Cheick Tiote, who picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against QPR. It’s actually surprising how long it’s taken Tiote to get to this unwanted tally but his one match ban will be against the league leaders.

Still missing are Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Ryan Taylor, Steven Taylor, Haris Vuckic and Dan Gosling. Gabriel Obertan came off the bench against QPR and should be fit for a similar role at his former stomping ground.

Pardew will make the choice between Papiss Cisse and Shola Ameobi before the game, as he risks further aggrevating the Senegal man. Cisse was angered when he was taken off last week, only for Ameobi to grab the headlines with a lovely goal. Pardew’s comments about Shola being a man for the big occasions could lead one to believe the 30-year old could get the nod on Boxing Day.

The Toon boss has also revealed how he and Fabricio Coloccini had a disagreement before the last game but managed to sort it out in time for kick off. It seemed to have worked to Newcastle’s advantage, as Coloccini turned in a stellar performance and led his side to a clean sheet as well as the three points.

As for Man United, the aforementioned Van Persie will be fit despite his “near-death” experience, while Wayne Rooney faces the axe after being hooked against Swansea. Javier Hernandez could deputise for Rooney, although the England man has an enviable record against Newcastle.

A win – however unlikely – for Newcastle could move them further from the congested bottom section of the table, while a loss might not be as bad as first feared as the teams around them have tough games too. Aston Villa – fresh from their pre-Christmas stuffing from Chelsea – host Tottenham and the mackems take on Manchester City.