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Preview: West Brom stand in the way of a perfect run up to Christmas

The Hawthorns, West Bromwich

Premier League 2016/17

Saturday 17th December 2016 – KO 17:30 [Live on BT Sport]

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Assistant Referees: Stephen Child and Ian Hussin

Fourth Official: Paul Tierney

Manchester United will battle against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns in the Premier League on Saturday evening, their last match before Christmas, meaning United have eight days rest before their next match, against Sunderland at Old Trafford on Boxing Day. United are in some good form at this stage of the season, being undefeated in their last nine matches in all competitions, winning their last two in the Premier League – last doing that back in August. Jose Mourinho seems to have found the formula to grind the results, which is one of the things United have been feared for doing over the past decades, and should that return, the fear factor both at home and away, could well be back again with aplomb.

Against Crystal Palace on Wednesday night, United dominated their opposition and could have scored a number of goals had decisions by the officials been correct. Saying that, United should have had Marcos Rojo sent off, but only a yellow card was given. United scored through Paul Pogba at the end of the first half, a goal which will make the ABU’s moan with United getting all the decisions, but the goal stood and that is all that counted. United conceded in the 66th minute, which seemed to be the start of that same old story again, but Juan Mata put United ahead, or so he had though, with that perfectly fine goal being disallowed. Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck to give United all three points in true Manchester United fashion.

West Brom will be a tough match for United. The Baggies are player well at this point of the season, only losing five matches all season, playing 16 matches. Saying that, if United are playing the standard of football they need to be, it should not be a problem for them. United can attack with pace, but only of players will pace are involved. Against Palace, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata were deployed on the wing. If Anthony Martial replaced Rooney, that would add something different on the left, but Mata will be expected to play on the right, due to Henrikh Mkhitaryan being on the sidelines through injury, with the Armenian expected to be back on Boxing Day, hopefully. It would be good to see Mkhitaryan back this weekend, though.

Mourinho is expected to be without Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan with Tony Pulis likely to be without Jonny Evans, Boaz Myhill and Saido Berahino. United have the squad depth to form a decent side without the players on the sidelines, but they need to be up for the challenge of defeating West Brom at home, something that many have done this season, but in their last three Premier League home matches, they have taken all three points, scoring ten goals and conceding just two – beating Burnley 4-0, Watford 3-1 and Swansea City 3-1. United should be able to do what they need to. If teams above them drop points again this weekend, with only Arsenal doing that midweek, United could soon be back inside the top five, on their rise to the top four.

Manchester United Form:- WWWDW

Crystal Palace 2-1 W, Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 W, Zorya Luhansk 2-0 W, Everton 1-1 D, West Ham United 4-1 W

Manchester United have started to find their form over the past few matches, producing back-to-back victories in the Premier League against Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace for the first time since August this season. United are unbeaten in nine matches in all competitions, and a run of wins is on the cards, should United be up for taking all three points back to Manchester this weekend, which needs to happen. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored eight matches in as many matches at this stage of the season, which is some good form for the Swedish striker. Paul Pogba seems to be finding his feet too, which is good as those jealous about the player arrival in Manchester can soon feast their eyes at what he can do.

West Bromwich Albion Form:- DWLLL

Swansea City 3-1 W, Chelsea 1-0 L, Watford 3-1 W, Hull City 1-1 D, Burnley 4-0 W

West Bromwich Albion have had an impressive start to the season, losing only five matches in the 16 Premier League matches played so far this season. Tony Pulis knows how to set up a team tactically, which makes any match against a team he manages a hard-fought one. United against the Baggies will be nothing less than that. In this fixture last season, the Baggies won 1-0 and the season prior to that, United managed a 2-2 draw, which was a tough match to watch. Pulis’ side will be looking to maintain their form against United in the Premier League recently, only David Moyes in the 2013/14 season beat the Baggies at the Hawthorns in the league – the season prior to that was a 5-5 draw – Sir Alex Ferguson’s last match as manager of the Red Devils.

Manchester United Top Scorers:

14 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 5 – Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, 4 – Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, 3 – Jesse Lingard, Wayne Rooney, 2 – Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 1 – Michael Carrick, Own Goal, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling

West Bromwich Albion Top Scorers:

7 – Salomón Rondón, 4 – Nacer Chadli, Gareth McAuley, 3 – Matt Phillips, 2 – James McClean, James Morrison, 1 – Chris Brunt, Jonny Evans, Darren Fletcher

Manchester United Squad;

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone

Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe

Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Injuries and Suspensions: Chris Smalling (foot), Luke Shaw (knock), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (ankle), Eric Bailly (knee)

West Bromwich Albion Squad:

Manager: Tony Pulis

Goalkeepers: Ben Foster, Boaz Myhill

Defenders: Allan Nyom, Jonas Olsson, Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley, Craig Dawson, Kane Wilson

Midfielders: Claudio Yacob, James Morrison, Craig Gardner, Matt Phillips, Chris Brunt, James McClean, Brendon Galloway, Nacer Chadli, Darren Fletcher, Sam Field

Forwards: Hal Robson-Kanu, Salomón Rondón, Saido Berahino, Jonathan Leko

Injuries and Suspensions: Jonny Evans (calf), Boaz Myhill (ankle), Saido Berahino (fitness)

Predicted Starting XI:

Predicted Score:

West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Manchester United

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