Manchester United will be aiming to recover from two consecutive defeats without scoring by seeing off the challenge of Tony Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion in Saturday’s late kick-off.
There was plenty of praise from Louis van Gaal for his Red Devils side after they were narrowly beaten at champions-elect Chelsea, but the Dutchman offered no excuses after they were despatched by a clinical and well-organised Everton on Sunday in a game where their dominance of possession counted for little.
Marouane Fellaini had little success in his first game back at Goodison Park as he was substituted at half-time, while replacement Radamel Falcao again found himself unable to get on the scoresheet. But despite their failings on Merseyside, a return to the Champions League for next season is almost guaranteed.
Four valuable points and clean sheets from two potentially tricky fixtures have guided West Brom to safety, meaning that there is much less pressure on them as they embark on a tricky run in. Like the hosts, West Brom’s last match was one where dominance of possession meant little, as they snuffed out Liverpool’s constant probing.
The intent here from Pulis will surely be to do the same and to nullify the threat posed by the likes of Wayne Rooney and Angel Di Maria, who could earn a recall here. Many of the Baggies squad knows the feeling of winning at Old Trafford, and top scorer Saido Berahino will be keen to be the hero there again.
Rooney should be fit for United despite limping off at Everton, but Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo are set to miss out again along with Michael Carrick.
West Brom’s only injury absentee is goalkeeper Ben Foster, so they could be unchanged from the team which held the red half of Merseyside.
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