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How Manchester United could lineup in a 3-4-1-2 formation against West Bromwich Albion

Manchester United face West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon, a match Jose Mourinho’s side will need to win to keep the chase on rivals Manchester City who sit at the top of the Premier League table with an eleven point cushion. United lost the first Manchester derby of the season, which was a chance to claw back some of the deficit to City, but it did not happen the way we all wanted. United went back to winning ways against Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening, winning 1-0, which may not have been what was expected, but it was still three points. United will need to keep the victories coming to keep the chase on City, who the pundits and the media are suggesting have already won the league, after 17 matches.

Mourinho has been criticised this week for playing ‘park the bus’ football. Even former manager Louis van Gaal has weighed into the criticism trying to make out his side played attacking football, when the statistics state otherwise. United have come a long way since Mourinho started his role as the manager, winning two major honours last season, getting back into the UEFA Champions League and challenging in the Premier League, sitting in second-place for months. United’s results a much better than last season, winning more matches, drawing fewer, but some suggest that improvement is not an actual improvement. United though will need to get the result they need against the Baggies, stopping Alan Pardew from getting his first win as manager of the club.

Starting XI Formation and Prediction (3-4-1-2):

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Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish goalkeeper has been in the best of form this season. The 14 saves against Arsenal in the 3-1 victory, putting in another good performance against Bournemouth and having more clean sheets; ten, than Liverpool have won matches; eight. David De Gea is on to something at United this season. United may not be top of the league, but there is something within the side that has not been present for a number of years. The team has shown fight, determination and has got results they needed, albeit not against City, but others. De Gea will be an important figure this season in the bit to knock City from the top of the league and win their first league title in five years. Right now that seems more of a dream than anything else, but it could happen and if it did, the media would be a laughing-stock yet again.

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Back Three: Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo

A back three has seen United play some good, attacking football this season. It is a formation, which if it works, can see United strengthen the midfield and play two forwards, which is what United need to be doing to start punishing teams. But will that still be enough for some of the fan base who are not happy winning matches but want multiple goals and to be entertained for every minute of the match, like Sir Alex Ferguson did. How history changes. Ferguson was not always a manager who brought entertaining football to the club, there were times he set out for the result his side needed, which is the important factor. We all want to be entertained, but everything needs to balance. With Eric Bailly on the sidelines for two to three months, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo, all fit and raring to go, could form a three-man team at the back, which could work very well. Mourinho also has Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and Axel Tuanzebe to utilise, meaning his defence is pretty stocked at this stage of the season, which is a good sign.

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Midfield: Antonio Valencia, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Luke Shaw

Nemanja Matic and Mourinho have both praised Scott McTominay this week, Mourinho for the way he got involved against Bournemouth and Matic for the way the player fought alongside him against Benfica and Bournemouth. With Paul Pogba sitting out this match as the third of his three-match suspension and Marouane Fellaini reportedly on the sidelines for a period of time, although unconfirmed, Ander Herrera would be the only other option as Michael Carrick may not be fully fit after his heart problems. Antonio Valencia could play as the right-wing-back, an impressive figure at the club over the last few seasons. Luke Shaw should keep his place after two recent appearances which has seen him look hungry and looking to stake his claim in the team. This may not be the best midfield combination, but it is one deemed good enough to get three points against the Baggies.

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Number Ten: Juan Mata

Recently, Juan Mata has been playing well. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan seemingly frozen out at the club again, for a good reason – he is not putting in the same amount of effort as other players. Mourinho was right in stating that he disappeared during a number of matches, many of which so-called supporters were moaning, but now seem to be moaning that the Armenian is not getting a chance. You need to earn chances, not sit there expecting them. Obviously, there are players doing a lot more to impress the manager and his team of coaches – Mata being one of them. United need a number ten whether it be next month or in the summer. Mata and Jesse Lingard can be the stand in players for the now, but it does need to be addressed and soon.

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Strikers: Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial

I don’t expect Romelu Lukaku to be dropped for this match, but leaving him on the bench and seeing what Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial can do as strikers would be good to see. Both players are capable of splitting the defence and scoring a goal or two. This is something United need to be doing to keep the side fresh. Yes, Lukaku was brought in to be the striker, so was Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Teddy Sheringham, Ruud van Nistelrooy and a whole host of others. Rotation is key, as this helps keep players fresh and shows that the team can be reliant on a number of players, not just one – which is how I feel when I see Lukaku starting all the time. Lukaku is a great striker and puts an effort in, but fatigue is something which could strike soon.

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