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Preview: Manchester United vs. West Bromwich Albion - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Manchester United's search for a first home Premier League win of the season continues on Saturday evening when they welcome West Bromwich Albion to Old Trafford.

Just one of Man United's 10 points so far this term has come on home territory, but they face a West Brom side struggling in the relegation zone without a win home or away so far in 2020-21.


Match preview

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pictured on November 7, 2020© Reuters

A 3-1 win away to Everton immediately before the international break has helped to ease the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but he will know that anything other than victory this weekend will see the spotlight shine on his position as Manchester United manager once again.

Solskjaer and his players are seemingly as baffled as everyone else at United's unpredictable and inconsistent form so far this season, with that win at Everton following disappointing defeats to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir, which in turn followed wins over Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig and a draw with Chelsea.

One aspect which has been consistent has been United's home form in the league, and not in a good way either.

The statistics are damning - just one point from a possible 12 so far this season and no wins in their last six stretching back to last term, during which time they have amassed only three points from 18 on offer.

The Red Devils have also conceded more home goals than any other team in the division this season and have already lost three times at Old Trafford. Incredibly, they have only ever lost more than that in two complete seasons during the Premier League era - in 2013-14 and 2001-02.

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores against Manchester United in the Premier League on November 1, 2020© Reuters

Another defeat or draw on Saturday would see them fail to win any of their opening five home league games of a season for the first time since 1972-73 and would make for their longest winless home run since March 1978.

Indeed, had it not been for a perfect away record which makes their home form all the more bizarre, Man United would sit in a much worse position than what is already their worst start to a season since 1989-90.

On paper, Saturday's match looks like one of the kindest fixtures possible to end such a torrid run as United go in search of back-to-back wins for the first time this season, against a team without a top-flight victory of any kind since May 2018.

However, West Brom have a surprisingly good record against United at Old Trafford in recent times, winning three and losing only one of their last five Premier League visits, including their last such trip in April 2018 when they were en route to relegation.

The Baggies had only won one of their previous 31 trips to Old Trafford before this recent run and could now record back-to-back away league wins over Man United for the first time since December 1980 - almost 40 years ago.

West Bromwich Albion manager Slaven Bilic pictured in November 2020© Reuters

Indeed, United have not even scored against the Baggies in three of their last four home league meetings - as many blanks as in their previous 53 such matches - and could go three consecutive home league games without scoring against a specific opponent for the first time since September 1982 against Arsenal.

West Brom at Old Trafford are something of an unlikely bogey team for Man United, then, but the hosts will still be firm favourites for this one after seeing the Baggies pick up only three points from their eight games since earning promotion back to the top flight.

Slaven Bilic's side have scored just once in the last five of those matches, and back-to-back defeats at the hands of Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur before the international break have left them in the relegation zone heading into gameweek nine.

West Brom have only ever failed to win their opening nine league games of a campaign once before - in 1985-86 - but may already have one eye on next weekend's home meeting with fellow strugglers Sheffield United in what looks increasingly like an early relegation six-pointer.

That said, their record at Old Trafford in recent seasons, coupled with United's bemusingly bad recent home form, will give them belief that they can pick up their first win of the season at the expense of Solskjaer's side this weekend.

Manchester United Premier League form: WLWDLW
Manchester United form (all competitions): WDWLLW

West Bromwich Albion Premier League form: DLDDLL


Team News

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford pictured in October 2020© Reuters

Man United face the prospect of an injury crisis both up front and in defence ahead of this match, although many of the players on their long list of doubts are expected to recover in time.

Marcus Rashford was forced to withdraw from the England squad with the shoulder injury he sustained against Everton before the international break but was back in training on Friday, while Anthony Martial sustained a back problem while away with France and will be assessed.

Mason Greenwood also has a question mark hanging over his availability after a string of absences prior to the break and allegations about his attitude causing problems within the Man United squad.

Edinson Cavani, who was sent off for Uruguay during the international break, is among those lying in wait for a start should any of those three players miss out, but he missed training on Thursday having returned late from Uruguay duty.

At the other end of the pitch, Harry Maguire is a doubt after complaining of a bruised foot following England's win over Iceland on Wednesday and subsequently missing training a day later, while Victor Lindelof played through the pain for Sweden and is now a doubt due to a recurring back problem.

With Luke Shaw definitely sidelined due to a hamstring injury and Eric Bailly also an ongoing doubt, that could leave United short at the back, although Alex Telles has been given the all-clear to feature after a fresh coronavirus scare and so he should be in line for his Premier League debut.

West Brom are also able to welcome a number of players back after COVID-19 absences, with Branislav Ivanovic, Matheus Pereira and Callum Robinson set to return.

Bilic revealed in his pre-match press conference that "a few other" unnamed players had tested positive too, although he suggested that they should all be back in training by Friday at the latest.

Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Field are definitely sidelined for the visitors due to injury.

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles; McTominay, Fred; Mata, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial

West Bromwich Albion possible starting lineup:
Johnstone; Furling, Ivanovic, Bartley, O'Shea, Townsend; Gallagher, Livermore, Krovinovic; Pereira, Grant


SM words green background

We say: Manchester United 2-0 West Bromwich Albion

This match appears to be as good a chance as any for Man United to end their dreadful home form, although West Brom's own recent record at Old Trafford gives them plenty of cause for optimism.

It is a battle between the second-worst home record and second-worst away record, the joint-worst home defence and the joint-worst away defence, and of those we expect hosts Manchester United to come out on top against a struggling and misfiring West Brom side.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data



Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


ID:422925:cQx

Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Manchester United and West Brom?

Man Utd
Draw
West Brom
Man Utd
81.1%
Draw
11.0%
West Brom
7.9%
355
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Manchester United captain Harry Maguire pictured on October 17, 2020
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Maguire, Lindelof 'both doubtful for West Brom clash'
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19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom9036618-123
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd9018415-111

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