West_Bromwich_Albion_(c)_en(dot)wikipedia(dot)orgmanchester_united_logo_(c)_www(dot)thehardtackle(dot)comWEST BROMWICH ALBION



Hawthorns, Birmingham

Saturday, 12.45pm  BST


West Brom host Man United this weekend in the Barclays Premier League. We preview the fixture with an eye on team news and tactical brief.

The Hawthorns prepares itself to mount further misery on the reigning league Champions as David Moyes brings his Man United side to town. It’s been a catastrophic new year for the side from Manchester, although the Baggies aren’t quite enjoying 2014 themselves. Pepe Mel’s side is 17th in the table and just a solitary point from the relegation places. Nevertheless, the Baggies often lift themselves for the big occasions and this weekend another giant scalp could be on its way.

Team news and tactics

West Brom

The Baggies have been in terrible form of late and are yet to win this calendar year. Furthermore, new manager, PepeMel hasn’t won any of his first six games and his position is increasingly under threat. Next set of fixtures could prove pivotal in West Brom’s bet to avoid the drop; the Baggies can lift themselves up the table by beating fellow strugglers Swansea and Cardiff.

On the injury front, Billy Jones has been diagnosed with a hamstring tear, meaning a recovery period of up to a month from the time of the injury – the 1-1 draw with Fulham on February 22. The injury to Jones could lead to a recall for Steven Reid, or possibly a positional shift for Morgan Amalfitano. On to some positive news, Albion are hopeful that Stephane Sessegnon and Claudio Yacob will figure against United this weekend.

Scott Scinclair has, largely, been neglected so far by the new management and with Anichebe finding form and Sessegnon expected back, the Englishman could struggle to make the starting eleven once again. Nicolas Anelka, however, will surely not be involved. The Frenchman has been banned for five games following his infamous ‘quenelle’ gesture.

Expected starting X1 (4-2-3-1): Foster (GK); Ridgewell, Olsson, McAuley, Reid; Yacob, Mulumbu; Brunt, Berahino, Amalfitano; Anichebe

West Brom_Man United

Man United

United are under immense pressure and the cracks are showing. David Moyes hasn’t been able to string together a series of good results, and Man United are now all but out of reckoning of the race for the coveted Champions league places. For a club of United’s standing, the season so far has been a gigantic failure. David Moyes must somehow restore team morale and make them believe again, easier said than done, of course. West Brom have already won the reverse fixture at Old Trafford and would be looking to complete a rare double over their illustrious visitors.

The Man United squad didn’t have any league games the entire week and are well rested before this encounter. On the injury front, Moyes expects the duo of Rafael and Jones to be back from spells out from their respective injuries. Ergo, barring Nani, Moyes expects the squad to be fully fit and raring to go. However, the midweek international friendlies could change the dynamics with respect to fatigue and injuries. Patrice Evra, for instance, suffered a boot to the face and may not be ready for this weekend. Nevertheless, the squad would be hurting after the disaster in Greece against Olympiacos and looking to make amends.

All eyes will be on the Man United team sheet once again, Moyes has often been criticized for picking a conservative team and now with an almost full squad to choose from the manager has no room for error.

Expected Starting X1 (4-4-1-1): De Gea (GK); Rafael, Evans, Vidic, Buttner; Mata, Carrick, Fellaini, Januzaj; Rooney; RvP

Key facts

  • West Brom have conceded the highest proportion of first half goals in the Premier League this season.
  • Wayne Rooney has scored six goals in his last five Premier League starts against West Brom.
  • This fixture ended 5-5 last season in the highest scoring draw in Premier League history and was also Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game in charge as United boss.
  • Prior to this season’s defeat at Old Trafford by the Baggies, Man Utd had previously won 11 and lost none of the 14 Premier League matches with West Brom.

Player to watch out

Fellaini could yet play an important role for United

Marouane Fellaini (Man United)

The much-maligned Belgium has had a troubled first season with the Reds; persistent injuries have limited Fellaini’s playing time. The former Everton man is finally back fit, he now has a chance to redeem his debut season and show his worth to United fans all over the globe.

Match prediction

West Brom 1-1 Man United

United have flattered to deceive all season long, while the Baggies at home always raise their game. If United fail to stamp their authority in the early exchanges, they might need to chase the game.

Blast from the past