Van Persie return key for Manchester United as they take on West Brom

Van Persie United

Ahead of Manchester United's weekend clash with West Brom at Old Trafford, we preview the Opta Stats.

Manchester United will be hoping for a return to winning ways on Saturday, as Louis van Gaal's side welcome Tony Pulis' West Bromwich Albion to Old Trafford. Following Liverpool's midweek defeat at Hull City, the Red Devils need a maximum of six points from the final four games to clinch a top-four finish. 

Form

Manchester United - The Red Devils' run of six consecutive league wins came to an end at Chelsea, and the subsequent 3-0 loss at Everton meant back-to-back defeats for the first time in Van Gaal's reign. Nonetheless, they remain one of the top flight's form sides, having collected 12 points from their last six fixtures (W4 L2). 

  Matches PlayedWonDrawnLostPoints
Manchester United 6 4 0 2 12
West Bromwich Albion 6 2 1 3 7

West Bromwich Albion - Tony Pulis' Baggies sit in 13th place following victory over Crystal Palace and last weekend's 0-0 stalemate with Liverpool. Indeed, recent results have put the club in a fantastic position to avoid relegation. With seven points from their last six league matches (W2 D1 L3) the club sit 14th in the form table. 

Opta Stats

  • Wayne Rooney has scored in each of his last six Barclays Premier League starts against West Brom (seven goals total). West Bromwich Albion have won just one of their last 21 league matches against Manchester United (W1 D4 L16).
  • Man Utd have failed to score in their last two Premier League games. They have not failed to score in three consecutive games since August 2007.
  • West Brom have scored the highest percentage of goals from set pieces of any team in the Premier League this season (56%).
  • The Baggies have scored 14 goals from headers this season (only West Ham with 15 have more) accounting for a division-high proportion of 44% of their total.
  • West Brom scored with their only two shots on target in the 2-2 draw with Man Utd at the Hawthorns back in October.

Key Men

Robin van Persie - With Wayne Rooney's fitness an uncertainty, Van Persie could return to first team action sooner than expected. The Dutchman has been showing his form in recent weeks with a string of promising performances for the under-21 side. He has a lot to prove, following after an underwhelming season, and a return to the goals against West Brom could prove the perfect remedy. 

Craig Gardner - Gardner has been the form man for Pulis' side in recent weeks, scoring twice and creating six chances in as many appearances. The 28-year-old is a danger from open play thanks to his lethal shooting, while he poses a regular threat from set pieces. The Red Devils will need to be wary of his presence on the edge of the penalty area, while being careful to avoid giving away any fouls. 

Potential Starting XIs

Predicted Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion line-ups

Prediction

Returning to familiar territory, Manchester United will be eager to get back to winnings ways against the Baggies. In any case, the race for top four is by no means a foregone conclusion. Pulis' West Brom will put up a brave fight, but ultimately the hosts should emerge victorious. Manchester United victory.

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