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Manchester United look to break the hearts of West Brom fans this weekend as both sides face off on Valentine’s Day.
It’ll be anything but a love affair as both sides are desperate for three points for very different reasons.
The Baggies are in real danger of relegation currently sitting 19th and 11 points from a spot in the Premier League next season. With more than half the season over West Brom have got to make a move if they want to stay in the top-flight.
United meanwhile have lost ground in the chase for its first Premier League title since 2012-13. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have just one win in their last four EPL matches. They’re five points back of Manchester City in the Premier League table having played one game more.
Paul Pogba remains on the sidelines for United with a thigh injury as he’ll be out at least a few more weeks.
The loss of Pogba means Fred is likely to take his place. It’ll be a milestone for the Brazilian who will earn his 100th appearance for the Reds if he sees the field.
Eric Bailly hasn’t played since a 2-1 win against Fulham in January and hopes to get back in the lineup for Sunday.
Expect David de Gea to start in goal again seeing as it’s a Premier League clash. Luke Shaw, Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay and Edinson Cavani are likely to start after being substitutes mid-week.
Youngster Amad Diallo was on the bench for their FA Cup win over West Ham and is available on Sunday.
Sam Allardyce’s side is getting healthy at a critical juncture of this campaign.
Grady Diangana is the only injury doubt for the Baggies.
The Reds will see a very different West Brom side than the one they beat 1-0 back in November.
Since then the Baggies got a new manager in Sam Allardyce. They also recruited several new faces in the winter transfer window.
Midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles came over on loan from Arsenal.
Striker Mbaye Diagne is on loan from Galatasaray in hopes of addressing the team’s goalscoring woes.
Winger Robert Snodgrass signed an 18-month contract in early January while Turkish midfielder Okay Yokuslu is on loan from Celta de Vigo.
Forward Cheikh Diaby joined early in 2021 from French club Le Havre.
The Baggies may not be getting the results with the new additions, but they’ve been able to get more goals. In their eight games in all competitions this year West Brom’s scored nine times.
Rolling the Allardyce
West Brom took a huge gamble when they sacked Slaven Bilic in December in favour of Sam Allardyce.
So far, that experiment has been a complete bust.
Since becoming manager Allardyce’s team has played 11 competitive games and lost eight. That includes a shootout loss in the FA Cup to Blackpool.
Allardyce will need to pull a rabbit out of his hat or else the Baggies will disappear out of the Premier League.
In Fine Form
Midfielder Scott McTominay’s been in a scoring mood of late with three goals in his last three games in all competitions. This includes the lone goal in their FA Cup tie versus West Ham. He’s got seven goals in all matches this season which is more than all his previous seasons put together.
Edinson Cavani has made a strong case to start with three goals in his last five Premier League games.
One man who’s improved his game in the new year is West Brom’s, Matheus Pereira. The Brazilian has five goals in his sides eight matches this year including two in their 3-2 win against Wolves.
Not an Easy Out
Looking at the standings, this might appear to be a cakewalk for the Reds but think again.
Man United has had its hands full against the Baggies lately. In their first matchup this season, VAR came to United’s rescue winning from the penalty spot while West Brom had a penalty overturned.
In the last 11 meetings between these sides, West Brom’s come away with points six times including four wins. A single goal decided their previous two defeats to the Reds.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his side needs to stay focused for a critical game on Sunday.
“Of course, it’s an important game for us this weekend. It’s an important spell. Every game, you tick one off and there less possibilities to make up the points to the teams in front of you. That’s what we want to do; that’s what we’re here to do, and Sunday’s a big one for us in that respect, to get back to winning ways.”
Sunday’s match at The Hawthorns kicks off at 2 pm. (JSL).