Manchester United will be looking to make it six victories in a row in the Premier League, when they take on West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Manchester United will welcome relegation-bound West Bromwich Albion to Old Trafford this weekend, as they look to strengthen their grip on second place in the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho’s men have won all of their league games since the 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United in early February, beating the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool along the way before they pulled off a brilliant comeback to beat neighbours Manchester City 3-2 last weekend.
The Portuguese tactician will be hoping that his side can extend their good run on Sunday with Liverpool still hot on their heels in the race for second spot.
West Bromwich Albion, on the other hand, are bottom of the pile, ten points away from safety and relegation to the second division looks all but confirmed. In fact, the Baggies could be relegated this weekend itself, if they lose at the Old Trafford and results elsewhere go against them.
Caretaker manager Darren Moore will be hoping to avoid such a situation and prolong their battle with an upset win against the Red Devils. If the reverse fixture is anything to go by though, they might run their hosts close on Sunday, with Manchester United only enjoying a narrow 2-1 win in December.
Team News & Tactics
Manchester United have a complete squad apart from second-choice goalkeeper Sergio Romero who injured himself during the international break when on national duty with Argentina. Phil Jones and Daley Blind are fit again after a spell on the sidelines and will be available for selection.
David De Gea has been sensational between the sticks for the Red Devils throughout the season and his selection in the starting XI is a bit of a no-brainer. On the right-side of the back four, Antonio Valencia is expected to start with veteran Ashley Young set to occupy the opposite side. Both full-backs will need to be more proactive in their attacking play down the wings.
At the heart of the Manchester United defence, Ivory Coast international Eric Bailly will partner up with last week’s hero Chris Smalling to battle the threat of the West Brom attackers.
The midfield trio of the fit-again Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba worked very well against City last week and Mourinho might not tinker with that for the Baggies’ visit. The setup provided Pogba more creative freedom and showed the damage he could do with such license in the derby win.
Jesse Lingard has grown into a pivotal part of this Manchester United setup with his tireless work-rate and the incisive movement in the final third. He should take up the right-flank for the 20-time English champions. January signing Alexis Sanchez will continue to occupy the left-wing, while star striker Romelu Lukaku will line up as the centre forward.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Young; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Lingard, Lukaku, Sanchez;
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom will be missing the services of midfielders Gareth Barry (knee) and James Morrison (calf), both of whom are ruled out for the rest of the season. Forward Hal Robson-Kanu (concussion) is another player who is definitely not going to be involved for the Baggies.
Former Manchester United defender Jonny Evans is also a major doubt for the contest with a knee problem. However, there are some positives for the strugglers with the return of Nacer Chadli, Sam Field and on-loan striker Daniel Sturridge to full fitness.
Former Manchester United man Ben Foster should line up in goal for the visitors on Sunday and will be hoping to impress against his former employers. He is likely to be protected by a back-line comprising of Craig Dawson and Ahmed Hegazi in the centre, flanked by Allan Nyom and Kieran Gibbs on the right and the left flanks respectively.
Matt Phillips should start on the right-flank and try to supply the forwards with crosses into the box while James McClean will try to cause some problems with his pace down the left side. England international Jake Livermore will likely partner up with Chris Brunt in the middle of the park to keep United from getting into any sort of rhythm.
Jay Rodriguez is expected to pair up with Salomon Rondon in the Baggies’ two-pronged attack on Saturday. The Englishman will cause a few issues with his zippy movement while the Venezuelan will prove to be a threat with his strength and physicality.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Foster; Nyom, Dawson, Hegazi, Gibbs; Phillips, Livermore, Brunt, McClean; Rondon, Rodriguez;
- Manchester United have the edge over West Brom when it comes to head-to-head record, winning 56 of their 131 meetings in all competitions, while the Baggies have won 43 and there have been 32 draws.
- Manchester United have 71 points, which is already the most the Red Devils have managed across a single season since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
- West Brom have taken just two points from the last 30 available to them (D2 L8). They have dropped a league-high 26 points from winning positions this season.
- The Red Devils have kept a league-high 16 clean sheets in the Premier League this season with 11 of those coming in fixtures at Old Trafford.
- Manchester United have only ever lost one Premier League game at Old Trafford to a side that began the day bottom of the table, to Blackburn in December 2011.
1. Manchester United Asian Handicap – 1.5 @ 1.625
2. Romelu Lukaku to score anytime @ 1.83
1. Correct Scoreline 4-0 @ 10.00
Player to Watch
Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Before Lukaku was a star, he had a season-long loan spell with West Brom in 2012-13, which is when he catapulted to fame after a brilliant campaign that ended with him netting 17 goals including a hat-trick for the Baggies in a 5-5 draw against Manchester United, which was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last fixture in charge.
The Belgian was on target for the Red Devils when they beat West Brom 2-1 at the Hawthorns earlier in the ongoing campaign and will once again be hoping to make an impact and add more goals to his tally of 26 for the season.
Manchester United 2-0 West Bromwich Albion
Nothing is going the Baggies’ way and they are a side in total disarray at the moment with confidence levels in the team low as the prospect of relegation looms larger with each passing day.
Manchester United, on the other hand, may not be at their best, but are on a good run of games and will be high on confidence after the derby win. As a result, we at the Hard Tackle predict a 2-0 win for the home team at Old Trafford this Sunday.