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.
How United have faired against West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League.
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.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday evening…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
David De Gea’s form has improved this season and ever since that defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, he seems to have been more determined to end the the period that he has faced over the last season and a half, or so. The Spaniard has been in good form in his last few matches for United, especially against Everton when United went for, and got the win they needed – which was a good result considering Everton’s early season form. United know what De Gea is capable of but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should also ensure that he gets use out of Dean Henderson, who is capable of doing his job in goal too.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles
United’s defence needs some work. At this moment in time, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly (although back in training) and Luke Shaw are all on the sidelines through injury which is also reduced by the fact that Marcos Rojo is not in contention to start for United this season, even with the current injury levels. Against West Bromwich Albion, Aaron Wan-Bissaka should keep his place at right-back with Alex Telles making his first start in the Premier League given that Saw is out of action. I the middle, Harry Maguire and Axel Tuanzebe should be give the chance to form a partnership, given that Victor Lindelof could be out of the match through injury.
Midfield Two: Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay
The midfield is an area that has been problematic despite the fact that Solskjaer has a wide selection of players to field. Paul Pogba has been in terrible form this season, and last, and cannot help talking about his lack of desire to play for the club, so I feel that he should be given his wish and watch matches from the bench, or at home if he has no fight in him. Pogba has disappointed me with his attitude towards the fact that other players have done more than him. He has let himself down. Perhaps he should look into making his dream a reality and leaving. In this instance, Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay should start.
Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James
United might need to try plan b at this moment in time with the likelihood that Marcus Rashford might miss this match due to injury. Mason Greenwood has been training at the clubs training ground all week, so should be in contention to face the Baggies on Saturday. Given that he scored for his country on Wednesday evening, Daniel James could have the high confidence levels to add something for his club, showing that there is a player in him who wants to succeed. Bruno Fernandes should start against the Baggies and perhaps come off should the job be done early with United back in the Champions League on Tuesday evening.
Forwards: Edinson Cavani
Edinson Cavani has played just five times this season, all from the bench, playing just 93 minutes of football. Against Everton, after coming on for the remaining eight minutes of the match, the Uruguayan scored his first goal for the club. During the international break, he scored for Uruguay against Colombia, scoring in the fifth minute of the match but was sent off in the 71st minute in a 2-0 defeat to Brazil, giving him a mixed international break. One thing is for sure, he will be ready to be called upon for United, if he does start keeping in mind the injuries to both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Brandon Williams; Paul Pogba, Juan Mata; Anthony Martial, Odion Ighalo
Solskjaer will have three substitutions in the Premier League and domestic cup competitions this season, whilst he will have up to five in the Champions League. Against the Baggies, Dean Henderson could remain on the bench again, which may not be ideal but with De Gea’s uptake in form, might be the best thing for now. In defence, Victor Lindelof and Brandon Williams could be there if needed. In midfield, Paul Pogba and Juan Mata could add something, providing the former can be bothered. In attack, Anthony Martial, providing he is fit and Odion Ighalo could offer something, should they be required.
Written by John Walker