Saturday 5 March 2016

Match preview: West Brom v United

United hit the road after successive Old Trafford encounters since mid February looking for a fifth win on the bounce for the first time this season in the Midlands. 

Tony Pulis teams are always a tough nut to crack, and with a number of former Old Trafford men among their number, fired-up Albion will prove a stern test of United's credentials.

The Baggies are well clear of relegation and have hit a semblance of form in recent weeks, but the Reds hopes are further boosted by the potential return of injured trio Phil Jones, Antonio Valencia and Marouane Fellaini.

United manager Louis van Gaal will assess his options ahead of the trip and may opt to select them for the club's Under 21 side rather than risk them at the Hawthorns. 
Chris Smalling could return from a shoulder problem, but Wayne Rooney, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ashley Young and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson will all miss out.
The hosts will be without Chris Brunt and former Red Jonny Evans, whilst ex United stalwart Darren Fletcher is now a firm fixture in the Baggies team and captains the side.

In his pre-match conference on Friday, Van Gaal spoke of his side's priorities, and said:

"When you see that we close the gap on our competitors a little bit then the belief shall rise, I am talking to my players and saying that they need to believe in that- I believe and it is important that they do as well.
"We have to beat West Bromwich to continue in these moments, last year we played there and drew 2-2 so it is not an easy opponent and at home we also lost against them.
"But this season we won against them at home and we hope to do that again on Sunday but it shall not be easy, I think.
"It is still our aim to finish in the first four of the league, and our aim is also to win a trophy- that would be fantastic for Manchester United and the fans- Manchester United has never won the Europa League so that too would be fantastic."

Much like us, West Brom have had a largely inconsistent season, having enjoyed positive results over Arsenal, Everton, Chelsea and Leicester.
In contrast, Pulis' side have dropped points against bottom six sides Aston Villa, Swansea, Newcastle and Bournemouth and exited the FA Cup to Championship side Reading. 

Form guide: West Brom L D W L W D United L L W W W W
Match odds: West Brom 13/4 Draw 5/2 United 7/10
Referee: Mike Dean 

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