Both teams here are on a fightback to reach their respective targets approaching the halfway mark of the season.
Interestingly enough, this fixture is being played on the same weekend as it was played last season as the Christmas period begins.
This one seems much more crucial though and will be a real physical battle.
Kick-off: 14:15 (GMT)
Since being appointed at the helm of West Brom, the seasoned Alan Pardew has managed to slightly revitalised his team but are yet to score under him. A draw in midweek at Anfield shows their ability to grind out a draw but they are incredibly winless since their opening 3 games of the season in all competitions – in which they won all of them. It’s not an easy Christmas fixture list for the Baggies too as they host Everton and Arsenal soon.
Their team consists of former United men such as Ben Foster and Jonny Evans although their boast more of their own qualities. At the back, notable names such as Kieran Gibbs and Gareth McAuley who themselves have a good pedigree haven’t been as impressive this season whereas fellow Craig Dawson is not available for the match. Young starlet Ahmed Hegazi may be in for a tough outing as he continues his run in the lineup.
In the middle of the park, creators Nacer Chadli and Matthew Phillips (who are in fact ruled out of the match via injury) pose a threat but are anchored by the likes of Gareth Barry (injured too) and also Poland international Grzegorz Krychowiak as well as England international Jake Livermore, who are fit to play unlike James Morrison (showing injuries to key men have affected the men from Black Country). The on-loan destroyer Krychowiak hasn’t quite shown is true quality this campaign, however there has been somewhat of a renaissance in his vital play at the heart of his team recently after being signed by Tony Pulis in the summer – a manage who has wanted him for a number of years. Whilst impressing for Poland, he has battled against many United men before and shown quality in big games due to his tenacity and discipline that makes him look like a player the United boss may have wanted for a long time.
Up top, the focal point Salomon Rondon and the tricky Jay Rodriguez have proven their attributes in the league in years gone by.
Their attitude of simply making sure they don’t lose the game and almost express their talents in a solid defence fell apart early on but it may be returning and there will be not much of bigger test than this encounter. It’s possible an upset could be caused but it would be a shock.
The Red Devils
Even with a midweek win, things haven’t calmed down too much for United. As rumours surround both the arrival of Antoine Griezmann and the departure of Henrikh Mkhitaryan which were both addressed directly by José Mourinho in his press conference.
Praise has come for David De Gea (who now has the most clean sheets in Europe’s top 5 leagues this campaign) recently with another crucial performance in midweek but now that Eric Bailly has joined Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini and Marcos Rojo on the sidelines and is out for around 3 months, the problems for United at the back continue. As Phil Jones was strong on his return, both Victor Lindelöf and Chris Smalling will feel pressured. The absences of Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian will likely continue as their chances may come in the Carabao Cup next week along with Axel Tuanzebe. The force has been with Luke Shaw recently with two man of the match awards given to him for his last two outings. Thus making his past disappointments under Mourinho look like they belong in a galaxy far, far away as he begins to fulfil his destiny, meaning he is well in contention for the clash.
Even with the lack options in midfield, the showing from Scott McTominay midweek must put him in serious contention for a start alongside Nemanja Matić along with Ander Herrera to keep it tight. The performances from Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial continue to improve but Marcus Rashford is hot on their heels. The exile of Mkhitaryan is unlikely to end too which will lead to even more speculation.
One man who escaped too much scrutiny in the last match was Romelu Lukaku prior to facing his former club and now has scored 30 goals since the start of last season against non-‘big six’ sides as there’s still the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimović making the competition up front more fierce by the game.
It’s almost a must win for United and the stakes are high before a busy time until the new year. Cracks are appearing and it’s about how they can be sealed and make sure they can crack their opponents. In addition, the chase to catch the ruthless City further continues too with the season about to really hot up (unlike the weather).
Referee: Anthony Taylor
- No manager has beaten Mourinho more times than Pardew which has been done on 3 occasions
- West Brom have failed to score in 17 games this calendar year
- United have failed to score 3 times in their last 5 games against their opponents in this match
Enjoy the match!