After facing back-to-back losses against Chelsea and Everton, United will be looking forward to getting back to winning ways when they host a rejuvenated West Brom side at the Theater of Dreams on Saturday afternoon. History suggests that United shouldn’t have anything to worry about, as they have lost just once to The Baggies in their last 21 league clashes. There will be a cause for concern however, as LVG stated in his presser that Michael Carrick, Luke Shaw and Johnny Evans are all out through injury. There was no mention of Marcos Rojo, but I also expect him to be out as well. On the bright side though, captain Wayne Rooney will be set to play as he overcame a minor knee problem he picked up in the latter stages of the game against Everton (phew!).
As has come to be the norm, this calls for yet another reshuffle in player positioning and with the squad he’s got , the only worry will be in the middle of the park. You may have already realized that this formation the gaffer has adopted heavily relies on a deep lying midfielder pulling all the strings and with Carrick out of the picture, the team’s balance will be compromised.
Let’s look at two potential ways that United could line up come Saturday:
Potential starting XI (1)
LVG will most likely keep his trusty 4-1-4-1 formation, moving Blind to that left back slot in place of Shaw and Rooney will be expected to operate from the midfield. Ander Herrera will be entrusted with the task of screening the back four, a job he did quite convincingly against Chelsea. Van Persie will have to play up top alone and rely on that Blind-Young-Fellaini combo on the left flank to provide for him. On paper, this seems a good enough side that will brush off West Brom effortlessly as The Baggies will not offer much going forward, except maybe on the counter. However, West Brom are a very disciplined side defensively, and I don’t think with this formation United will move the ball as fast as they should to exploit the little spaces and errors that will present themselves. With RVP up front alone, United may struggle to find goals as he’s not quite match fit. This takes me to plan B:
Potential starting XI (2)
This to me looks a much more dangerous side going forward. With Di Maria and Ashley young on the wings, United will get much more width while attacking which will stretch West Brom and leave them vulnerable to crosses played into the box. Mata will be just as effective in the No.10 role behind Rooney, as he can count on Fellaini’s knockdowns to start an attack down the middle. Rooney should maintain his position up top, as he draws the opponents fullbacks which in turn make space for the likes of Fellaini and young. Just as in the first prediction, Herrera lies deep as the bridge between the defence and midfield. The only real setback with this is probably the work rate of Di Maria, as he may need to drop back from time to time to cover the vulnerable Valencia.
Twice now I have predicted a United win without success. However, I am a very strong believer of ‘third time lucky’, as we saw with Everton on their second goal from the corner last weekend. Therefore I believe this time round United have no choice but to win. Mathematically, we need nine points to secure a Champions League slot but presumably if Liverpool lose to Chelsea, then only one win will be enough. That win HAS to come on Saturday. No compromise.
See you on the pitch!
What do you think about the line ups and formations? Do you have a different opinion? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.