Nani returns while Roberto Di Matteo faces defensive crisis...Midlands Malaise
In a season full of surprise dropped points, United have come a cropper against second city-trio Aston Villa, Birmingham City - and most frustratingly - West Brom.
The Baggies shock October two-goal comeback in the 2-2 draw owed to a Patrice Evra deflection and abysmal Edwin van der Sar fumble. With the memory of Lee Bowyer's 89th minute leveller on their minds, the United players couldn't be blamed for a slight fear of dread.
Ferguson will hammer into his squad the need to increase their tally of just one away win this campaign. Victory at The Hawthorns will end that run and see them back in control of the Premier League title race.
December is a month full of festive cheer, but Di Matteo must be eager to see the back of it as soon as possible.
Three defeats out of four has seen tentative chatter of a push for a Europa League spot transform into the age-old fear of the drop. The trio of losses on the spin reach a damaging crescendo with the 3-1 set back against Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday.
Di Matteo will expect little from a fixture that last saw all three points gained in 1984. An unlikely change of fortunes will be needed for the New Year to banish the memories of the previous month.
Manager Roberto Di Matteo is facing a defensive crisis for the meeting of the Premier League title favourites. First choice pair Gabriel Tamas and Gonzalo Jara are suspended, while utility man Paul Scharner is struggling with illness.
Full-back Gianni Zuiverloon has been recalled from his loan spell at Ipswich Town. Playmaker Chris Brunt also returns after he served a one-match ban against Blackburn Rovers.
Possible starting XI: Carson; Shorey, Reid, Ibanez, Cech; Tchoyi, Brunt, Morrison, Mulumbu, Thomas; Odemwingie.
Boss Sir Alex Ferguson should be able to unleash star winger Nani after he recovered from a hip injury. His return will ease the burden created by Ji-Sung Park's presence on Asian Cup duty for South Korea.
Right-back John O'Shea should be passed fit after a calf strain, with Paul Scholes also set to follow him after a groin injury.
Winger Antonio Valencia has targeted a February return following his leg break and Owen Hargreaves remains absent after a hamstring tear.
Possible starting XI: Van der Sar; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Nani, Carrick, Anderson, Giggs; Berbatov, Rooney.