Manchester United resume their Premier League campaign on Sunday when they lock horns with West Bromwich Albion.
Following a frustrating 3-3 draw with Everton, Manchester United are hoping to recover their winning form in the Premier League on Sunday. Dropping two points in the last league match proved costly for Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer’s men, who are now trailing league leaders Manchester City by five points.
A win would be imperative when they take on West Brom on Sunday if the Red Devils are to keep up with their cross-town rivals. It could also be important in maintaining their advantage over rivals Leicester City and Liverpool while Chelsea are also surging up the table following the appointment of Thomas Tuchel.
West Brom, too, are also in desperate need of a victory but for contrasting reasons. Indeed, the Baggies are dawdling at the bottom end of the league table, just one point ahead of bottom club Sheffield United. Along with Southampton, they are also one of the most out of form teams in the division, having secured just two points in the last five matches.
The Sam Allardyce led team’s most recent game was against Tottenham Hotspur, where they lost 2-0 thanks to goals from Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min.
Unlike Man United, however, they have had a solid weeklong rest, which could come in handy considering the congested fixture list enforced upon players amid the pandemic. United’s midweek in the UEFA Europa League could also play a key role in the club’s preparation heading into the game – giving the Baggies an ideal opportunity to spring a surprise.
Here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their important matchup in the Premier League this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
Sam Allardyce could continue to make changes to his side as he searches for the best possible setup for his team. A 4-2-3-1 could be fancied against a Manchester United side that does boast a strong midfield.
New signing Okay Yokuslu is tipped to make his starting debut for the club, after coming on as a substitute against Tottenham. His passing and positional awareness should add another dimension to the West Brom midfield and further strengthen their second line of press, especially alongside fellow loan signing in Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) February 11, 2021
Matheus Pereira, on the other hand, could be brought back into the setup as West Brom did evidently lack creativity against Spurs. The Brazilian, therefore, will look to provide the creative essence in the final third using his movement and dynamism, with additional support from the wide attackers in Robert Snodgrass and Karlan Grant.
Both Snodgrass and Grant are ideally suited in a counter-attacking system. They are especially adept in whipping in crosses into the box which makes sense as West Brom now have a quality target man in M’Baye Diagne, who was unlucky to have both his ruled out due to offside last weekend.
Defensively, however, Allardyce is unlikely to ring in the changes and instead persist with the deep defensive line consisting of Kyle Bartley, Semi Ajayi as well as the two fullbacks in Lee Peltier and Conor Townsend.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Johnstone; Peltier, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend; Maitland-Niles, Yokuslu; Snodgrass, Pereira, Grant; Diagne
Solskjaer rested a bunch of his key players in the shape of substitute appearances, in the midweek FA Cup fixture against West Ham. They are all expected to make their returns to the starting eleven, with the list including players like Bruno Fernandes, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay and Edinson Cavani.
McTominay, for one, is likely to renew his midfield partnership alongside Fred in the absence of Paul Pogba while Shaw should re-occupy his left-back position, at the expense of Alex Telles. The 4-2-3-1 makes United a more balanced team, especially if Fernandes in the number ten role helps out the two central midfielders in the second line of press.
The Portuguese international’s primary objective, however, will be to offer the creative essence in the final third as he and the two wide attackers in Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford look to provide supply for Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan forward is likely to get the nod ahead of Anthony Martial, although the latter is set to be utilised as a second-half substitute by Solskjaer.
Martial’s pace and dynamism should offer another dimension to United’s attacking game. But, in a match where the opposition is likely to defend deep, Cavani could be the more crucial attacking outlet, as the experienced forward has the positional sense as well as the physical attributes to churn out a goal from somewhere.
And finally, in the defensive unit, Solskjaer is unlikely to ring in too many changes aside from the return of Shaw and David de Gea in their respective positions. Aaron Wan-Bissaka should be fit enough to offer the defensive solidity at right-back, aiding Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire in their bid to keep a clean sheet after conceding three against Everton.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Cavani
1. Manchester United Asian Handicap -1.5 @ 1.950
1. Edinson Cavani to score 2 or more @ 6.00
- Manchester United are currently unbeaten in 18 Premier League away matches (W13, D5), their longest such run in top-flight history. They are the only side not to have lost a Premier League away game this season.
- Sam Allardyce’s side have the worst form in the Premier League over the past 12 matches, earning just six points.
- Bruno Fernandes, who has 13 goals and nine assists in the top flight this season, could become just the fourth United player to reach double figures for both in a Premier League campaign.
- West Brom’s only home win in the league this season was back in November when they beat bottom side Sheffield United 1-0.
- Six of Marcus Rashford’s eight Premier League goals this season have come away from home – he also has contributed five assists on the road.
Player to Watch
Mbaye diagne tottenham – west bromwich karşısında 2 gol attı ama ofsayt gerekçesiyle ikisi de iptal . Galatasaraya gün doğmasına az kaldı pic.twitter.com/buqF4SFw7D
— Gezen Adam (@cakmagurme34) February 7, 2021
M’Baye Diagne has every reason to become an asset for West Brom and potentially inspire his team into an extraordinary comeback during the second half of the campaign. His quality was evident in the game against Tottenham Hotspur as the former Galatasaray forward offer his teammates a viable target-man.
Allardyce’s tactical setup means West Brom’s offensive game could revolve around Diagne now – making him an ideal candidate to become the game-changer in this game. Manchester United have already had their fair share of troubles in regards to their defence from set-pieces, and it won’t be surprising to see Diagne come up with a crucial goal this weekend.
West Brom 1-3 Manchester United
Manchester United shouldn’t find it particularly difficult to navigate their way around the West Brom defence especially with a strengthen the attacking unit. However, there can’t be any guarantees regarding their defensive solidity, with the Baggies likely to find the back of the net at least once.
That said, the Red Devils are the undisputed favourites as they have shown the temerity to perform consistently and have improved as an overall unit over the past couple of months. A convincing 3-1 victory for the visitors.