Having gone seven points clear, courtesy of that thrilling 4-3 win over Newcastle United; Manchester United welcomes West Bromwich Albion to Old Trafford this Saturday in their next Premier League fixture. With Manchester City facing a difficult trip to Carrow Road, would it be too much to hope for that gap to be extended to either eight or ten points. But we shouldn`t count our chickens before they`ve hatched as West Bromwich have surprised many people with their enterprising play which, in turn, has led to a healthy league position. It promises to be quite a challenge but one we must overcome.
If we are to hold of the title challenge of Manchester City and possibly Chelsea, then there`s no doubt we have to tighten up our leaky defence. Discussing the subject, Rio Ferdinand has remarked to the media,
“We`re concerned. When you are conceding goals at any level you want to make it stop.”
“We have let in far too many. We`re in a good position but if we are to maintain where we are, we must sort ourselves out.”
Indeed we do, as there`ll be a game or two where we concede and won`t be able to get back in contention.
Manchester United Team News:
The latest batch of injuries has seen Wayne Rooney side-lined for up to three weeks. There must also be doubts over the availability of Ashley Young who also succumbed to an injury in that Christmas Day training session. Hopefully Danny Welbeck, who was ill on Boxing Day, will have recovered to be in contention. Nemanja Vidic, who was on the bench against Newcastle, is seeing his comeback being managed carefully, could feature in this one to see if he can shore up a defence that is leaking too many goals.
Elsewhere in the squad we`re hearing that Shinji Kagawa could be on the bench after recovering from an injury that has kept him on the side-lines.
Player to watch: Patrice Evra
The French full back is on a run. From scoring only one a season, Patrice has already scored four this season and boasts a record of two-in-two from the last two fixtures; can he make it three from three? Don`t bet against it!
West Bromwich Albion Team News:
Steve Clarke brings his squad to Old Trafford keen to keep his sides` momentum going. However, there are three of his squad that, according to our sources, are classified as major doubts, these being – Jonas Olsson, Goran Popov and Youssouf Mulumbu. To combat the prospect of having a depleted squad, West Brom have recalled George Thorn from his loan spell at London Road, Peterborough.
Player to watch: Shane Long
A striker who is vastly under-rated but a striker that could cause us problems if we give him the space to do so!
Match Facts & Stats
With regard to clashes between the two sides, in the Premier League, United clearly have the edge. In 12 fixtures, United have won 10 and drawn 2. In fact you have to go back to 1984 for the last time that West Bromwich Albion beat United in the league and even further back, 1978, to when they last won at Old Trafford, that being a 5-3 win back on 30th December.
Continuing, we should point out that United are on a good run of form at home having won 6 out of the last 7. However, this season our defence has seen us go behind eight times in the Premier League before winning. We`ve also setting an on-going record by having scored in our last 58 Premier League home fixtures. West Brom must be quaking in their boots!
The men in charge are:-
J. Moss – Referee
A. Garratt – Assistant
C. Breakspear – Assistant
P. Dowd – Fourth Official
No doubt we`ll fall behind, it`s becoming customary these days, but I`ve every confidence that we`ll come out on top against a West Brom side that I believe have been punching above their weight this season. 3-1 to Manchester United is my bold prediction.
We`re back on our travels on New Years` Day when we make the relatively short-trip to play Wigan at the DW Stadium, kick-off is 15:00 hours.