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Preview: Time for Manchester United to make Old Trafford a fortress against the Baggies?

Manchester United -v- West Bromwich Albion

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 20 November 2020, KO 20:00 GMT

Referee: David Coote Assistants: Lee Betts, Nick Hopton

Fourth Official: Martin Atkinson

VAR: Peter Bankes Assistant VAR: Andy Halliday

On Saturday evening, Manchester United will return to Premier League action after the final international break of 2020, welcoming West Bromwich Albion back to Old Trafford after they were relegated at the end of the 2017/18 season. United have not been in good form at the Theatre of Dreams in the Premier League this season; playing four home matches, losing three and drawing once. At home this season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have scored just twice, conceding 10 goals, keeping one clean sheet. Only in the UEFA Champions League has brought a victory at home this season, a 5-0 romp against RB Leipzig last month.

United’s league form has been poor this season with the club sitting in 14th place with just 10 points in the Premier League table before a ball is kicked this weekend, which could change prior to the kick off time on Saturday evening, the match being the last match of the day. The Baggies sit in 18th place with just three points this season with the club playing one more match than United (eight to United’s seven) but losing five times and drawing three times. They are seeking their first victory of the season, which puts them in much worse form than United at this stage of the season, which could be bad news for United.

Manchester United: WLLWDW

Everton 3-1 W, Istanbul Basaksehir 2-1 L, Arsenal 1-0 L, RB Leipzig 5-0 W, Chelsea 0-0 D, Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 W

West Bromwich Albion: LLDDLD

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 L, Fulham 2-0 L, Brighton and Hove Albion 1-1 D, Burnley 0-0 D, Southampton 2-0 L, Chelsea 3-3 D

Top Scorers: Marcus Rashford has scored four goals fewer than West Brom this season. United have an opportunity to put their season back on the right track against the Baggies.

Manchester United Goals: 7 – Marcus Rashford, 6 – Bruno Fernandes, 2 – Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood, 1 – Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Donny van de Beek, Edinson Cavani, Harry Maguire, Own Goal, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay

United’s Premier League season has not been the best with seven matches played so far this season with three wins, three losses and one draw. They have a game in hand over 16 teams after each round of matches because their start to the season was a week later than the rest, along with Manchester City for their participation in the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League last season. United got back on track with a 3-1 victory over Everton last time out and will need to continue that form in this match, which could be tough with the Baggies seeking to find their first victory of the season.

West Bromwich Albion Goals: 3 – Callum Robinson, Hal Robson-Kanu, 1 – Grady Diangana, Karlan Grant, Kyle Bartley, Matheus Pereira, Rekeem Harper

The Baggies have been poor this season, playing eight times in the Premier League, losing five and drawing three – still seeking their first win of the season. They are the worst of all three promoted teams last season – sitting in 18th place in the league with three points. Fulham sit 17th and Leeds United, the champions of the Championship, sit in 15th place. The Baggies will need to start getting wins on the board otherwise this is going to be a long hard season for them. Heading into 2021, with the pressure mounting, the lack of victories will continue to damage their chances of remaining in the Premier League.

Team News: United have three players ruled out this weekend with the Baggies having two players ruled out. United will be sweating on the fitness of several players though, which could be a worry.

United have three players ruled out of action for this match; Phil Jones (knee), Luke Shaw (thigh) and Eric Bailly (muscular). However, there are also quite a few doubts in the run up to the match with Mason Greenwood (illness) having a 75% chance of being involved and Marcus Rashford (shoulder), Harry Maguire (foot), Jesse Lingard (other), Anthony Martial and Victor Lindelof (both lower back) all having a 50% chance of being involved against the Baggies. This could suggest that Edinson Cavani will start his first match for the club after scoring his first goal against Everton almost a fortnight ago.

The Baggies have two players who have been ruled out from the clash against United at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday evening; Hal Robson-Kanu (arm/elbow) and Sam Field (knee). Branislav Ivanovic and Matheus Pereira, who had been sidelined by COVID-19 should be ready to go but Callum Robinson, who had been suffering the same problem, only has a 75% chance of featuring against United this weekend. This could be good for the Baggies, who will need ot get their first win on the board sooner rather than later which could see them take advantage of United’s poor home form this season, at least so far.

Predicted Starting XI: Edinson Cavani to lead the line against the Baggies?

Solskjaer has a few injuries and a few more doubts ahead of the class with the Baggies on Saturday evening. I think that David De Gea will keep his place in goal with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Harry Maguire and Alex Telles playing in the back four. In the two-man midfield, Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek should both start. In the attacking midfield places, Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes and Daniel James could all be raring to go after the international break with Edinson Cavani starting for the first time in the Premier League to lead the line against the struggling Baggies.

Match Prediction: United have been the team to beat for the Baggies in the Premier League with the last match played at Old Trafford being a loss for United, between these two teams. United have won 15 of the 24 meetings in the Premier League with the Baggies.

United and West Brom have played a total of 24 times in the history of the Premier League with United winning 15 times, the Baggies winning four times and the two teams drawing five times. United have scored a total of 49 goals; winning three penalties and scoring two of them. The Baggies have scored a total of 20 goals; winning one penalty, and not scoring it. United have kept a total of 11 clean sheets with West Brom keeping four. In terms of discipline, United have been shown a total of 35 yellow cards with one red card whereas the Baggies have been shown a total of 30 yellow cards with four red cards being shown.

United last played the Baggies in the 2017/18 season in the Premier League. At Old Trafford, in a match that was played on the 15 April 2018, United were defeated 1-0 with the only goal of the match scored by Jay Rodriguez in the 73rd minute. Five of the players who started in that match are still at the club; David De Gea, Victor Lindelof, Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata. Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford all came off the bench. At The Hawthorns that season, in a match that was played on the 17 December 2017, United won 2-1 with goals from Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard.

Manchester United 3-0 West Bromwich Albion

Written by John Walker

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copyright: JW

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