Soccer-Moyes defiant ahead of tricky Newcastle game

Reuters

Dec 6 (Reuters) - Manchester United manager David Moyes was in defiant mood ahead of the home Premier League game against Newcastle United on Saturday.

The champions lost 1-0 to Everton at Old Trafford on Wednesday, their first defeat in 13 matches leaving them 12 points behind league leaders Arsenal.

Moyes has struggled since taking over from Alex Ferguson in July, and the visit of Newcastle, who had won four games in a row before losing at Swansea in midweek, could prove to be another difficult match.

"Four straight wins is a great record to get.. but obviously they are coming to Old Trafford and we are going to make it as hard for them as we possibly can," Moyes told a news conference on Friday.

United failed to take several good chances against Everton and were punished in full by Bryan Oviedo's 86th-minute winner but Moyes was happy with his team's performance.

"People who watched the game they would have got lots of belief from it," he said.

"There were chances in the game we didn't take. It could quite easily have been very different.

"Unless you are someone who doesn't understand the game too much you would have seen that."

Phil Jones could return in midfield after missing the Everton game due to suspension but with Michael Carrick still injured Moyes lacks quality options in the middle of the park.

Marouane Fellaini produced another lacklustre display against his former club and Moyes has been reluctant to start Tom Cleverley or Anderson, placing great responsibility on the shoulders of the evergreen Ryan Giggs.

The 40-year-old excelled in last week's 5-0 Champions League win at Bayer Leverkusen but missed the 2-2 draw at Tottenham on Sunday and failed to shine against Everton's hard-working and organised formation.

Japanese forward Shinji Kagawa is doubtful with a virus, striker Wayne Rooney is suspended and Moyes was tight-lipped when questioned about the prospect of Robin van Persie returning from injury.

"You can ask, that doesn't mean I will answer," he said.

"We have got a few injuries, like every club," he said. "The injured players are all making progress and some have a chance (of playing tomorrow)." (Reporting by Ed Osmond, editing by Pritha Sarkar)