As the international break finally comes to an end, normal services in domestic football, with Manchester United taking on West Brom in the Saturday evening fixture at Old Trafford.
Given that the side are yet to win a league game so far this season at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will have to be at their very best, on and off the ball, in order to turn their unexplainable form at home around. On the other hand, the Baggies will be aiming to make improvement on both sides of the pitch, as they have not claimed a single victory this term.
On paper, the host have too much quality in midfield and attack for the visitors to handle, though, with the number of surprises that have risen in recent months, anything is possible within Premier League football. If Slaven Bilic’s West Brom are able to keep United’s attack limited and prove to be ruthless on the counter, then there is a chance of them walking away with at least a point.
With no further ado, here are the three key battles to look out for at Old Trafford this evening…
Marcus Rashford vs Darnell Furlong
With two goals and three assists to his name in seven league appearances, Marcus Rashford will be aiming to improve on his consistency and efficiency in the final third as the pundits and the Manchester United supporters are expecting him to reach 20 league goals by the end of the campaign. When looking at his burst of pace, movement with and without the ball as well as his confidence in front of goal, the target of scoring 20 league goals is definitely achievable for Rashford.
Rashford will be in for a close and tight encounter with Darnell Furlong, who is West Brom’s regular option at right-back and is more than capable of being a crucial player on both sides of the pitch. When comparing Furlong to the other full-backs in the league, only Andrew Roberton and Tariq Lamptey have had more touches than the right-back in the opposition’s box. However, his key duty is to nullify the threat that Rashford provides before he can proceed to being a threat himself.
Callum Robinson vs Harry Maguire
Scoring only 6 goals in eight league fixtures, West Brom do not possess many talented attacking players, but they will be highly depending on Callum Robinson, who will be looking to get in between the lines of the central defence. As his two league goals so far, this season have come at home to Chelsea, the 25-year-old Irish international certainly has the confidence to score against big teams.
Although the Red Devils are expected to dominate majority of the possession at Old Trafford, if the Baggies are still able to create a few chances on the counter or through the set-piece method into the feet of Callum Robinson, then it is more than possible for the attacker to walk away with a goal or two. He will be up against captain Harry Maguire, who will be looking to get back to his best and to his normal self, especially after the personal experience he has had on and off the football pitch.
Bruno Fernandes vs Jake Livermore
Given the huge number of midfield options that Solskjaer has available, as well as Donny Van de Beek and Paul Pogba being a choice from the bench, it will be Bruno Fernandes who will be leading the midfield and will be connecting the dots from midfield to attack. Considered as Manchester United’s best and important player in the starting line-up, the side’s attack and creativity runs through the Portuguese international, who will be looking to continue to provide the goods.
Meanwhile for West Brom, Jake Livermore is expected to play the lone defensive-midfield role, where he will be sitting in front of the defence, providing the balance and stability to the midfield. The 31-year-old will be hoping to keep Fernandes as quiet as possible, and will be aiming to help the team through his leadership, range of passing and most importantly, his Premier League experience.