West Brom vs Manchester United preview: How to watch, kick-off time, team news, predicted line-ups and ones to watch
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21: Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United scores his team's first goal, a penalty past Sam Johnstone of West Bromwich Albion, which he is retaking following a VAR review that decided Sam Johnstone of West Bromwich Albion (not pictured) was off his line for the original penalty during the Premier League match between Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford on November 21, 2020 in Manchester, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Martin Rickett - Pool/Getty Images)

Title challenges Manchester United will be looking to close the gap on leaders Manchester City when they head to the Hawthorns on Sunday.

Hosts West Bromwich Albion have struggled since their return to the Premier League, sitting just one point bottom club Sheffield United, and have lost four of their last five matches.

Second-place United have impressed under Ole Gunnar Solskjær this campaign. However, their current league form has been indifferent. Winning just two of their last five, with one of those being an emphatic 9-0 trouncing of Southampton, draws against Everton and Arsenal, as well as a loss to the Blades' has meant that they trail the top spot by five points, playing one game more than their city rivals. 

  • Team News

Despite joining up with first-team training after injuring his hamstring, West Brom will be without summer signing Grady Diangana, with next weeks match against Burnley the next target for return.

With the former West Ham winger the only major injury concern, manager Sam Allardyce almost has an entire squad to chose from and could give a full debut to January loan signing Okay Yokuslu

For United, they will be without Frenchman Paul Pogba, who is set to have a spell on the sidelines after coming off injured against Everton last Saturday. 

Eric Bailly has missed the last six games through injury but is back in contention after returning to training.

  • Predicted lineups 

West Brom: Johnstone, Townsend, Bartley, Ajayi, Furlong, Livermore, Phillips, Maitland-Niles, Sawyers, Snodgrass, Diagne 

Manchester United: De Gea, Shaw, Maguire, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka, Fred, McTominay, Rashford, Fernandes, Greenwood, Cavani 

  • Ones to watch 

West Brom: Sam Johnstone 

Although Sam Johnstone has conceded the most Premier League goals this season, with the ball finding its way past the English goalkeeper on 54 occasions, there is a reasonable case to say that he has been one of the clubs standout performers in what has been a difficult campaign.

Saving more shots than any other goalkeeper this season, with the Baggies' man stopping 90 of the 144 shots faced, his admirable performances in the draw against Liverpool and Manchester City as well as a win against Sheffield United earlier in the season show that Johnstone is an essential part of why the Albion remain above the foot of the table. 

Manchester United: Edison Cavani 

In form for the Red Devils, summer signing Edison Cavani will be the one to watch when they face West Brom. 

Scoring in the last two Premier League fixtures, the Uraguain is prolific away from Old Trafford, with five of his seven goals in all competitions coming from outside of Manchester. 

The former Paris Saint-Germain striker is likely to cause havoc in the West Brom penalty box, with the poachers' intelligent movement likely to outwit the Albion defence, with a particular Baggies' weakness being the inability to track the spare man in the box. 

Starting all of their last three league fixtures, with this being the most amount of consecutive times he's began a match on the pitch this season, it is probable that he will be given the chance once again to impress from the start. 

  • Previous meeting

The last time the two sides met, United edged out a close encounter, winning 1-0 at Old Trafford. A Bruno Fernandes penalty separated the two sides and lifted the Red Devils' to 9th in the league at the time.  

The Manchester side has had the better of West Brom in recent encounters, losing just one of the last five against the Albion, and winning on three occasions. 

  • Key quotes 

In the home dugout, Allardyce is hoping that his side can replicate the performances that the Baggies' showed against both Manchester City and Liverpool earlier in the season, and come away from the game with something to show from it. 

“I hope the players can raise their performance levels," said the former England manager. “I think they’ve shown they can. They’ve gone to Man City and Liverpool and come home with two draws in other games against the top sides."

The 66-year-old also insisted that his side must take the chances when they come, and is demanding resilience from his team. 

Allardyce told the media: “You need to have a resilient performance. We know that Manchester United will probably have more possession than us."

He added: “The opposite of that is using possession in a clever way to attack the opposition when we get the opportunity, and not waste the ball.

“When a chance arrives, as it did at Liverpool, we need to take it."

Manchester United manager Solskjær did not underestimate the importance of the match in his pre-match press conference, suggesting that time is running out to close the gap on leaders City.

"It's an important spell," emphasised the Norwegian. "Every game you tick one-off and it’s less and less possibility to catch up points on the teams in front of you."

Despite progress in the FA Cup, the 47-year-old was adamant that the match against West Brom is a perfect way to bounce back from their most recent league draw against Everton. 

"Sunday is a big one for us in that respect, to get back to winning ways."

He concluded: "The two points dropped against Everton was disappointing when it’s the last kick of the ball, but we bounced back really well in the cup against West Ham."

 

  • How to watch 

The match will be played on Sunday, February 15 at 2 pm BST, and will be shown live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event.  

 

 

 

 

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