Manchester United have a trip to West Brom this weekend as they attempt to get their title challenge back on track. It looks unlikely that they can keep up with Manchester City, let alone better them, but Jose Mourinho will not want his players to throw in the towel. Their local rivals’ match against Tottenham will be played on the day before and if they drop points, it will give United an even greater incentive to pick up three points on Sunday. It won’t be a straightforward match, as they come up against a West Brom team that is difficult to break down.
The Baggies made a huge decision as they sacked Tony Pulis and replaced him with Alan Pardew. It wasn’t an appointment to excite the fan-base, but he has had a decent start in the job. In three matches, his team have conceded only one goal. However, the problems have been at the other end of the pitch, as they have yet to score under the new manager. The decision to remove Pulis was based on the style of play and the early indications are that his replacement is having difficulty changing that. They have nothing to lose this weekend, but their mid-week draw against Liverpool will give them hope that they can get something from the game.
Manchester United have taken 14 from a possible 24 points in away Premier League fixtures this season. This will be an area they look to improve on over the coming months. West Brom have won only twice this season, therefore this fixture is one that the visitors should be winning. They will be motivated to go on a run of wins after their defeat last weekend to Manchester City and their fixures over Christmas look winnable.
Gareth Barry and Matt Phillips could be set for a first-team return for the Baggies after suffering from injuries. However, Nacer Chadli, Craig Dawson and James Morrison won’t be available for Alan Pardew.
Manchester United have been met with a body blow, as Eric Bailly has been ruled out for three months. Paul Pogba will be another big player to miss out as he serves the final match of his suspension. Marouane Fellaini and Marcos Rojo are both in contention to feature.
West Brom have lost eight of their 11 Premier League home fixtures against Manchester United.
Since the start of last season, Romelu Lukaku has scored 30 goals in 38 matches against teams outside of the top-six.
The Egyptian centre-back impressed at the beginning of the season and his performance against Liverpool during the week was a reminder of how good he can be. He put his body on the line for his team and played a significant role as the team earned a point. Hegazi completed five ball recoveries and made ten clearances, including one off the line. Furthermore, he won four aerial duels and showed leadership as the Baggies held on for a precious point. If they are to get anything from the game this weekend, they will need their defence to be at their best and Hegazi is now a key figure in that. Romelu Lukaku will be determined to get back to scoring ways and it is up to the West Brom defence to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Romelu Lukaku has a history of scoring in this fixture. The Belgian international was once on loan at West Brom and scored a hat-trick for the Baggies in what was Sir Alex Ferguson’s final match in charge of United. It was a breath-taking match that finished 5-5 on the day and it was the striker that made the headlines. The Belgian has gone through a difficult period as he adjusts to the expectation of playing for a top-six team. He scored against Bournemouth during the week, but it was only his second Premier League goal since September. He will be hoping that it provides him with momentum to push on over the Christmas period and establish himself as one of the best players in the division. The 24-year-old has dominated teams outside of the top-six and he will be confident of scoring against one of his former clubs. Despite how frustrating he can be, Lukaku remains the danger man in the Manchester United attack.
West Brom have shown little under Alan Pardew to suggest they can beat a top-six team. It was always going to be a tough process to change the style and it is proving to be just that. The former Newcastle United and Crystal Palace manager is capable of coaching a more entertaining style, but he will first and foremost want the team to be solid at the back, especially with relegation being a real possibility. This weekend’s fixture is likely to end in an away victory. Manchester United have the quality to overpower their hosts and their record against the teams outside of the top-six suggests that they are unlikely to drop points in such a fixture.
West Brom 0-2 Manchester United