West Brom - Manchester United VFTO: The Baggies' take ahead of their meeting with United

Ahead of Sunday afternoon's Premier League encounter with The Baggies at Hawthorns, we speak with VAVEL UK's West Bromwich Albion editor Neil Leverett.

West Brom - Manchester United VFTO: The Baggies' take ahead of their meeting with United
Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Manchester United travel to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, with both sides in good form. The Red Devils are looking for their third successive league win, whilst the hosts are unbeaten in three. United won in their last visit to the West Midlands, so what of United's chances this weekend at The Hawthorns?

We spoke to VAVEL UK's West Brom editor Neil Leverett.

Q: West Brom were one half of the incredible 2-2 draw with Leicester City in midweek. Is confidence high for The Baggies?

A: West Brom are unquestionably in a good moment right now. The point at The King Power on Tuesday was a deserved one and has seen us take seven out of nine points. 

Results have very much come in pockets; a few wins, a few losses and then more draws. But February was very much a success and pullig away from the drop zone has been a boost.

Q: Before the Leicester game there was another full of goals against Crystal Palace, with Saido Berahino scoring. He's apologised to the fans, has it been accepted by the majority?

A: To be quite honest, the fans have not particularly held his wantaway status against Berahino. The bigger problem has been with Tony Pulis' opinion of him. 

Lack of fitness? Attitude? Whatever it was, since having been introduced back into the starting XI, the team have clicked from a attacking point of view and Salomon Rondon has looked a new man.

Q: United are in very good form, with four consecutive wins since a terrible European away game, but The Hawthorns has proved a difficult place to come this season, hasn't it?

It has indeed. West Brom lost four of six at home at the beginning of the season, but since then we have lost just once at home since November - to Bournemouth. 

In that period, four wins and four draws have come respectively, including victory over Arsenal. The Baggies have only failed to score in the West Midlands on one occasion. Louis van Gaal has his work cut out this Sunday.  

Q: Who are West Brom's main threats, not just individually but also as a unit?

A: As documented, Rondon has become a new man in the last few weeks. The Venezuelan has scored in two of the last three league games. Having been goalless since Halloween, the West Brom forward has continued to lead the line and has scored in every other league goal since the turn of February. He is the Baggies' lead scorer with six.

Rondon scores versus Leicester City (photo:getty)
Rondon scores versus Leicester City (photo:getty)

United need to aware of the Baggies continued danger from set-pieces. Craig Dawson scored his third of the campaign versus The Eagles last weekend and has the knack of finding the right spaces in the penalty area. United fans will need no reminder of Jonny Evans' aerial prowess also...

It is not just the threat of Dawson van Gaal's men need to be aware of. Each member of the West Brom back line have scored this term. Craig Gardner - in his tenth season with West Brom - has scored in his last two games and has set piece wizardry in his locker.

Q: Who can United exploit with the pace of Memphis, Martial and Marcus Rashford, aswell as the patience of Juan Mata?

A: West Brom's physical approach is no secret, but they lack pace in the defensive areas. Against United, this could a concern for Pulis. 

With Dawson at right-back, a battle with Memphis could be on the cards of which there could only be one winner. With Chris Brunt ruled out for the season James Chester could be equally tested versus Mata and/or Anthony Martial in the wide areas.

Q: It appears the relegation battle isn't on the agenda as it might have been a few weeks back. Is there a good feeling about West brom now and how high can they finish?

A: The win at Goodison Park versus Everton was monumental in the way it changed fortunes not only on the road, but in terms of confidence in the team.

Our run in is tricky, with games four of the top five to come over the next few weeks. There also games versus relegation threatened Sunderland and Norwich City, so it is quite tough a forecast a final points tally. Just four points separate us and the top half of the table, so a top ten finish would be a good outcome.

Q: Tony Pulis has done a great job in tightening up the defence. How else has he changed the side?

A: The boss has done his fair share of tinkering with the side since coming in last January. To begin with, he experimented with the likes of the on-loan Andre Wisdom, Sebastien Pocognoli and Craig Gardner in the full back areas, with Dawson and McAuley at centre-back. 

Craig Dawson has slotted into right-back for Pulis (photo:getty)
Craig Dawson has slotted into right-back for Pulis (photo:getty)

Over the last 13 months however, Pulis has stuck with Dawson on the right and opted to shift Chris Brunt into a left-back berth, deploying Jonas Olsson as McAuley's partner. It means in essence there are three centre backs in the back line with a good understanding together, which heightens our defensive nouse.

In the past this season, despite the purchase of Rondon, West Brom have played with a midfield five, which has seen Rondon become isolated up front. With the different approach over the last few outings we are likely to see more attacking play versus United.

Without Brunt however, the presence of James Chester may prompt a less open approach.

Q: Finally, can we get your prediction for the Super Sunday clash?

A: I'm going for a 1-1 draw. Mata and Rondon to score.