West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United - Match Preview, Stats & Team News

To be played on Saturday 8th March 2014 at 12:45. Venue: The Hawthorns, West Bromwich.

Odds: West Bromwich Albion 4/1, Draw 11/4, Manchester United 4/5

Last season: 5-5

Preview & injury news

It feels like a massive weekend for both managers. So much time has passed since their most recent fixtures - and their future has been subject to speculation and analysis in the media, meaning they will both be hungry for their team to pick up all three points this weekend.

Pepe Mel is still looking for his first win as West Bromwich Albion manager and it seems pretty ridiculous that he is under such pressure early on in his reign - it only took 44 days since he took the managerial reigns for a report to surface suggesting that he could be removed from his position, partly because the players don't like him.

For David Moyes and Manchester United, they will have wanted a swift opportunity to put their dreadful Champions League performance against Olympiakos behind them which sees them face a stern task of making the quarter-finals of the competition after going down 2-0 in Athens, but his side have had a bit of time to think how they can bounce back from that disappointment. 

The two side's current predicaments in the league are as follows. West Brom are a point clear of the relegation zone having played a game more than Sunderland who occupy the third and final relegation spot. With Cardiff and Fulham playing each other this weekend, the Baggies are under a bit of pressure to not lose the game at least. A win could see them climb as high as 15th as they go in search of their first league win in eight matches.

For Manchester United, they can reclaim sixth place with a win with Everton not playing this weekend due to their FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal. Their league form has been patchy of late having won five out of their last ten games, including the victory at Crystal Palace last time out.

On the injury and suspension front - the Baggies will be without Nicolas Anelka who starts his five game ban for the quenelle gesture, in all seriousness he is probably not likely to play for the club again. There is a chance that Stephane Sessegnon could return from a groin injury whilst Claudio Yacob could also be available for selection after a hamstring problem. Diego Lugano looks as though he will be ruled out for up to three weeks after limping off in Uruguay's friendly with Austria whilst Billy Jones is out until next month with a hamstring injury.

For Manchester United, after being quoted seemingly complaining at a lack of game time, Javier Hernandez's international duty didn't end well as he sustained a knee injury during Mexico's 0-0 draw with Nigeria whilst there is still no timescale on the hamstring injury for Nani. This game might come a week too early for Phil Jones who has had a hip problem - but has returned to training with the team. There is a possibility that Jonny Evans and Rafael could be both available for selection.

Key stats

Here are the two sides' top scorers in the league this season:

Robin van Persie Man Utd FW 11 16 1,313
Wayne Rooney Man Utd FW 10 22 1,846
Danny Welbeck Man Utd FW 8 17 1,141
Saido Berahino West Brom FW 4 22 951
Victor Anichebe West Brom FW 3 16 794
Shane Long West Brom FW 3 15 1,038

The amount of clean sheets they have kept

NameClean SheetPlayed
Manchester United 9 27
West Bromwich Albion 5 27

And their average possession statistics

NamePossession PercentagePlayed
Manchester United 55.19 27
West Bromwich Albion 47.78 27

5 players to watch

Saido Berahino - Berahino scored the winning goal when the two sides met earlier on in the season, and does seem to be the biggest goal threat in a West Brom team that doesn't exactly seem prolific in front of goal at the moment. Will he haunt the Champions again?

Robin Van Persie - Van Persie has been quoted complaining about his team-mates playing in the spaces that he would like to play in, so will there be a different approach from United in order to get the best out of their striker?

Victor Anichebe - He has come up with two big goals since Pepe Mel took charge in home matches against Liverpool and Chelsea. Any positive result the Baggies could get from this weekend may turn out to be huge, so will Anichebe be the man to get that vital goal again?

Michael Carrick - Carrick was criticised by Roy Keane for giving a 'flat' interview which was 'like the performance' after United's Champions League defeat to Olympiakos. Carrick will be amongst a side that wants to bounce back well from that performance, and there will be onus on the midfielders to step up having been criticised for much of the season. 

Ben Foster - The ex-United shot stopper faces up against his old club with the hope of keeping Van Persie, Rooney and the rest at bay. He is capable of putting in some very impressive goalkeeping displays. Just how busy will Foster be?

Earlier on in the season

Manchester United 1-2 West Bromwich Albion, September 2013

It was a poor first half but it soon came to life in the second half when Morgan Amalfitano ran half of the length of the field before a little chip over David De Gea gave the visitors the lead at Old Trafford. The home side equalised via Wayne Rooney's free-kick which missed everyone on its way into the net, and the feeling was that United would go on to take all three points - as has been the case over the years. That wasn't to be, as Amalfitano laid the ball off for Saido Berhaino to fire home from the edge of the area. United did have the ball in the net for a second time through Marouane Fellaini but he was given offside, as West Brom left a stunned Old Trafford with all three points. 

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch