Saturday, 14 April 2018

Match preview: United v West Bromwich Albion

Darren Moore's struggling WBA side make the trip to Old Trafford for a tie with all the hallmarks of a typical end of season look about it. United have all but secured Champions League football for next season and need two more wins to seal the runners - up spot. The two sides are in vastly contrasting form, with the Reds on a superb run of five successive league wins, off the back of our incredible and dramatic derby day delight last time out. This tie marks the start of an important week for the team with three matches in seven days, culminating in the FA Cup semi final with Spurs at Wembley.
 In contrast, basement boys Baggies have endured a torrid and tumultous season, with Moore their third manager of a campaign that has seen them pick up only three league wins, along with the departures of Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew and a host of off-field problems. The return fixture shortly before Christmas ended 2-1 to us with goals from Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard.

The visitors draw with Swansea last weekend stopped a  terrible slump of eight consecutive defeats - a club record - but, having long since been consigned to their fate, relegation to the Championship would finally be confirmed with another loss at Old Trafford. They come into this one rock - bottom of the table and sit twelve points adrift of safety with five games to go. Moore was placed in caretaker charge for the remainder of the campaign after Pardew left following only one win in 19 games at the Hawthorns.
Nacer Chadli, Sam Field and Daniel Sturridge could be welcomed back into the West Brom fold but their captain and former Red Jonny Evans is a doubt with a knee injury. United have a fully fit squad at our disposal. Ander Herrera marked his return from injury in last weekend's stunning derby win, while Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind are also available again. Back up keeper Sergio Romero remains sidelined.

Despite Albion's lowly position at the foot of the Premier League, United boss Jose is expecting a tough assignment against Moore's men. He said: "I think it will be a big challenge because they know in football that anything is possible. So they will fight with everything until mathematically it is possible. Every match that is played, if they don't get points, then they are closer of course to relegation and they know that, but I think they still believe that in this moment it's possible. They have quality, experience and many years of stability so I am surprised at their position but from our case, we come from a big result trying to make the players understand that it's not enough to deserve to finish second, we need six or seven points so in this moment that is our ambition."

Form guide: United W W L W W W West Brom L L L L L D
Match odds: United 4/1 Draw 25/4 West Brom 31/2
Referee: Wigan official Paul Tierney takes charge of his first ever Old Trafford tie

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