Manchester United strode into the International break with an emphatic win over Everton (a far cry from their embarrassing thrashing to Tottenham before the October break), effectively saving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job as manager. The Red Devils normally have a strong record coming out from Intl breaks, but their awful home record undermines that right now.
They might enjoy a 10-match winning streak away from home, yet end up losing their wits at Old Trafford. If they can’t defeat a West Brom side who are yet to win a game this season, they might as well forget about dominating any side at home. United need to come out with an all guns blazing approach to oust the newly-promoted side & end this bizarre winless curse at home.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams, Fred, Pogba, Bruno, Greenwood, Rashford, Martial
United are experiencing a crisis in the left-back role, with Luke Shaw ruled out for a month after limping off against Everton. Alex Telles has reportedly tested positive for Covid-19 once again, meaning young Brandon Williams will probably start this one. Marcus Rashford missed England’s games due to a shoulder problem, but he should recover in time.
West Brom Likely XI
Johnstone, Ivanovic, Ajayi, Bartley, O’Shea, Gibbs, Livermore, Gallagher, Diangana, Pereira, Robinson
West Brom stars Branislav Ivanovic & Matheus Pereira missed their last game after testing positive for Covid-19, but should return for this one. Centre-forward Hal Robson-Kanu remains sidelined with an arm injury.
Manchester United vs West Brom Preview
Man United’s home form this season has been something of an anomaly. After that big 5-0 win over RB Leipzig at Old Trafford in the Champions League, everyone thought they rediscovered their groove at home. A few days later, they ended up losing to Arsenal.
The last time United won a PL game at home was against Bournemouth in July! They’ll hope that perhaps that unlucky winless streak is broken against another relegation-bound side. The biggest problem the Red Devils face at home is their constant struggle against defensive sides.
United just can’t seem to open up rigid backlines despite having more than enough attacking firepower to do so. While Solskjaer’s tactics & inability to change his system is definitely at fault, the players are also responsible. Ole has had the last two weeks to sit at home and decipher ways on how to turn around this home form, so hopefully he’ll produce something much better on Saturday.
The Norwegian gaffer will definitely be relying on his ace Bruno Fernandes to continue serving the goods. The Portuguese midfielder absolutely dominated the show against Everton & will aim to repeat that against a struggling West Brom side. Rashford should be back, but needs to be more prolific in front of goal to capitalize on his opportunities.
Anthony Martial’s going through a rough-patch & with Edinson Cavani picking up pace, he’ll have to produce something special on Saturday – tormenting West Brom’s defenders with his movement & hold-up play as well as finishing off his chances. Mason Greenwood is having to endure some ruthless criticism due to his difficult start to the season and he’ll probably be fired up to silence his doubters by bringing his ruthless side to the fray.
Paul Pogba should start but he knows that another average performance will get him down the pecking order. Unless he can show more desire to win the ball back, distribute things better & bring his creative best to the table – he’ll probably get frustrated even more. Like Pogba, Fred will also be expected to whip forward some unpredictable defence-splitting passes to open up West Brom’s rigid backline.
One thing is for sure, United can’t afford to be mediocre again. West Brom almost stole a point off Spurs before the break & proved they can be a tough nut to crack. With a stacked 5-man backline full of disciplined, clever players aided by two defensive midfielders, Slaven Bilic’s side can be annoying to play against.
If United make that mistake, they could endure another repeat of that nightmarish loss to Istanbul Basaksehir. With the tricky Mathaus Pereira having the creative genes to open up any backline, wonderkid Grady Diangana an explosive firecracker in attack & Callum Robinson clinical enough to finish off chances, West Brom could easily snatch points off the Red Devils if allowed to.
Solskjaer’s side must remain defensive alert & more importantly be more unpredictable in their attacking patterns. Unless they make some grave mistakes and continue hounding the visitors with a barrage of attacks, they should finally snatch a much-needed win to climb up the Premier League table.
Due to United’s home form, this game will probably be much more uncomfortable for them than it should really be. But knowing their record after International breaks, positive momentum and superiority in quality, the Red Devils should grind out a 1-0 win.