Preview & Tactics: Manchester United vs West Brom

The upcoming weekend awaits a cracking game at Old Trafford between the Red Devils and West Brom. It’s a notable game for the host, as their aspirations of finishing in the Champions league spot have been handed a green light, since rivals Liverpool were defeated against Hull City at the KC Stadium in the midweek. Mathematically, United need just two wins in the remaining four games of the season. So, this game is very crucial for the Reds to not only start a new winning run after the unanticipated losses in the previous two games, but also to be in the desired top four spot.

Manchester United vs West Brom- 4-1-4-1 LINEUP                 Manchester United vs west brom - 4-1-3-2

The Reds would adopt the rejuvenated 4-1-4-1 formation, which has been very effective in the recent fixtures as it enables to both control the game and have maximum ball possession. But, the lack of ideas in the final third has paved for the unexpected losses in the away games against the leaders Chelsea and Toffees.

So, it would be better to adopt a new formation 4-1-3-2, which would not only help the wingers and full-backs to move forward and deliver crosses and passes from flanks and in box, but also avoids man-marking and back passes to midfielders. (1v1 situations are only possible)

The Spanish keeper David De Gea would be the automatic pick in the team.

The back four consists of the versatile left back Daley Blind, powerful centre back pair Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, with Ecuadorian right back Antonio Valencia.

The key holding midfield position is occupied by Vice-captain Michael Carrick, who is likely to be fit after missing the previous league games from calf injury.

The central midfielder would be the stable Spaniard Ander Herrera.

The enterprising Ashley young and creative midfielder Juan Mata would play as wingers. They have complete potential to provide match winning crosses and assists from the flanks. But, their vulnerability in tracking back the opponents, was clearly seen in the game against the School of Science.

The decisive goal scorer Wayne Rooney (Captain) would play as the Striker, with Belgian Marouane Fellaini slotting as either a number-10 player or supportive striker.

Injury news and Suspensions:

Currently, all the United players are free from suspension.

The Brazilian right back Rafael Da Silva is ruled out for the rest of the season, after he received a rib injury in the under-21 game against Leicester City.

The forward Robin Van Persie looks sharp after scoring a brace in the under-21 game against Fulham and remains in contention to be selected for the weekend’s game (With current injury issue of Wayne Rooney), after he featured in the last few minutes against Everton, replacing Wayne Rooney. Based on the status of Rooney’s fitness, his selection could be done.

Further, injured players like Phil Jones (Ankle), Daley blind (Ankle), Marcos Rojo (Groin) are likely to return, after undergoing a late fitness test.

For the Baggies, all the players are free from suspension. Only worry for manager Tony Pulis is keeper Ben Foster, who suffers from a long term ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) Injury.

Tactical Analysis:

The Reds would face a tough encounter against the Albions on Saturday, as they are experts to sit back and allow opponents to two thirds of the pitch, but when ball is lost by antagonist, they immediately pose counter threat and move forward.

It’s very essential for the host’s midfielders to move the ball across the sides at a higher tempo and use the height of Fellaini to provide lobbing passes, so that he could easily control the ball in his chest and either directly head it or provide it to the striker to shoot.

The United backline should be wary of the counter attack from the Baggies central midfielders Victor Anichebe, Stephane Sessegnon, wingers Craig Dawson, James Morrison.

The winger Callum McManaman (mid-season signing) and Nigerian striker Brown Ideye would be the key substitute players for the visitors in the latter parts of the game as they could upset any team by netting last gasp goals.

Tactically, if the Red Devils adopt 4-1-3-2 formation, it would help the wingers to provide accurate crosses and passes from the sides as two strikers can b identified in the box and cause havoc in the helps to avoid man marking Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini.

But, if they continue to deploy 4-1-4-1 format, wingers and fullbacks should display higher work rate to get into small spaces in the box and provide only exact passes to the forward, rather than crossing, since only one striker would be recognizable in the six yard box.

The sample illustrations of the possible battles to be fought on the pitch:

4-1-4-1(United) vs 4-2-3-1 (West Brom) Formation

west brom vs mufc tactics 1


4-1-2-3 (United) VS 4-2-3-1 (West Brom) Formation

tactics 2 west brom vs mufc


Match Officials:

The referee for United’s encounter against the Baggies is Anthony Taylor. His assistants are Gary Beswick and Peter James Kirkup. The fourth official is Michael Oliver.

Overall Head to Head Statistics: (At Old Trafford)

The hosts would welcome West Brom merrily, as the Reds have dominated the previous clashes at home against the Albions with a win percentage 54%.

MANCHESTER UNITED 53 29 14 10 110:63 2.08 1.19
WEST BROM 53 10 14 29 63:110 1.19 2.08


Previous meeting: (this season)

The previous league fixture between United and West Brom at the Hawthorns ended in a dramatic 2-2 draw.

Goal Scorers:

Manchester United: Marouane Fellaini (48’), Daley Blind (87’)

West Brom: Stephane Sessegnon (8’), Saido Berahino (66’)

This Fixture, last season at Old Trafford:

The game between the Albions and Reds under David Moyes in 2013 resulted in the visitors win (2-1 score line), goals were scored by:

West Brom: Morgan Amalfitano (54’), Saido Berahino (67’)

United: Wayne Rooney (57’)

Cautious period in this game for The Reds:

65’-70’ – Since, England’s under-21 striker Saido Berahino scores goals against the Red Devils.

Players to look out:

Manchester United: Goal scorers at the Hawthorns.

Daley Blind (Developing a great partnership with Ashley Young in the left flank, especially when playing at home)


Marouane Fellaini (Has amazing chest control and shooting power)

Marouane Fellaini


West Brom:

Saido Berahino (Has fantastic ability to score both inside and outside the box)


Darren Fletcher (Former United player, awaiting for a warm reception at Old Trafford)