Manchester United - West Brom Preview: High-flying Baggies out to scupper seven-point lead for hosts
The Red Devils opened up a big advantage over Manchester City with a last-gasp win over Newcastle, but Steve Clarke's men could well punish Sir Alex Ferguson's leaky defence
By Tom J Doyle
Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra
Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Giggs
Van Persie, Chicharito
Jones, Olsson, McAuley, Ridgewell
Odemwingie, Gera, Brunt
Wayne Rooney (knee) is definitely out of the game for the hosts, while Danny Welbeck could still be sidelined as he missed the Newcastle game with an illness.
Captain Nemanja Vidic complained of soreness in his knee after the 1-1 draw with Swansea, and could be rested again.
Shinji Kagawa (knee) is nearing full fitness but this game may prove to be too soon for him, while Anderson, Rafael and Nani (all hamstring) are scheduled to return but may have to settle for places on the bench if they are fit.
Phil Jones and Ashley Young are still recovering from knocks, but could yet make the match-day squad.
Goran Popov (hamstring) has no return date and could miss the match for the visitors against the Premier League leaders.
Steven Reid (calf/shin) and Claudio Yacob (hamstring) could make a return against United, but Steve Clarke may opt not to rush them back into the first team at Old Trafford.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Manchester United have won 10 of their last 12 games against West Brom in the Premier League, with the other two results draws at Old Trafford.
- United have conceded as many goals at home this season - 13 - as Southampton, who are 17th in the league.
- After netting his fourth of the campaign against Newcastle, no other defender has more goals in the league than Patrice Evra (pictured, right).
- Robin van Persie has 61 goals in 74 Premier League games since January 2011.
- Chicharito has scored in two of his last three games against West Brom.
- West Brom have kept clean sheets in just two of their last 47 Premier League games.
- Four of Romelu Lukaku's goals this season have come in the final 20 minutes of matches.
- The Baggies could go third with a win over United on Saturday, and would be 10 points behind them in the race for the title.
- West Brom last won at Old Trafford in 1978, taking the points in a 5-3 victory.
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Top 3 Predictions
Man Utd. 3-1 West Bromwich Albion
- 22.41 %
Man Utd. 3-0 West Bromwich Albion
- 12.76 %
Man Utd. 2-0 West Bromwich Albion
- 7.32 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Mar 8, 2014||West Bromwich Albion 0 - Man Utd. 3|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Sep 28, 2013||Man Utd. 1 - West Bromwich Albion 2|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||May 19, 2013||West Bromwich Albion 5 - Man Utd. 5|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Dec 29, 2012||Man Utd. 2 - West Bromwich Albion 0|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Mar 11, 2012||Man Utd. 2 - West Bromwich Albion 0|
|Mar 8, 2014||West Bromwich Albion 0 - Man Utd. 3||EPL|
|Feb 25, 2014||Olympiakos Piraeus 2 - Man Utd. 0||UCL|
|Feb 22, 2014||Crystal Palace 0 - Man Utd. 2||EPL|
|Feb 12, 2014||Arsenal 0 - Man Utd. 0||EPL|
|Feb 9, 2014||Man Utd. 2 - Fulham 2||EPL|
|1||David de Gea||Goalkeeper|
|14||Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez||Striker|
|20||Robin van Persie||Striker|
|-||Sebastien Gabriel Tamaş||Defender|
|11||Yassine El Ghanassy||Striker|
The England midfielder has never fully won over United fans, with some feeling he lacks the self belief to make his talents truly stand out against the world's best. However, Carrick has taken on a more dynamic role this season, with Sir Alex Ferguson keen for the 31-year-old to add a more attacking element to his game. He controlled the midfield during United's 1-1 draw away to Swansea, and was inspirational against Newcastle as he set up Robin van Persie and Chicharito, with the latter a world-class pass when the pressure was on in injury time. We may finally be seeing the best of Carrick, which could be bad news for Steve Clarke's side.
While Chelsea look set to search for an alternative to Fernando Torres in the January transfer window, the young loanee at the Hawthorns is showing the Stamford Bridge faithful just what they are missing. The powerful forward has six goals in the Premier League this season, and his impressive header to defeat Norwich recently was reminiscent of the way Didier Drogba used to bully centre-backs for the Blues. Whether Steve Clarke can hold on to the striker beyond this season is another matter entirely, but the Baggies should simply be glad to have such a precocious talent available at Old Trafford.
Predicting a Manchester United scoreline these days is like trying to trap a hurricane in a paper bag - useless, pointless, and it could get rather messy. However, the Red Devils proved once again with a last-minute winner against Newcastle that they will simply not give up, having come from behind three times to claim three points. West Brom may provide a sterner test than the Magpies and will surely not be as forgiving in defence, but such is the talent of Robin van Persie and the predatory nature of Chicharito, it is hard to see United losing at home to West Brom. There could well be goals at either end, but if the Baggies score six, United will in all probability score seven.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed