A late Daley Blind goal rescued a point for Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United at the Hawthorns as they battled to a two all draw with West Brom. Another sub par performance saw the visitors fall behind twice, firstly to Stephane Sessegnon, before Saido Berahino but West Brom in front again after Marouane Fellaini had levelled matters. The result leaves Van Gaal’s side fifth in the table and still in search of their first away win of the season.
United welcomed Phil Jones and Ander Herrera back from injury and handed a first start of the season to Adnan Januzaj in a reworked 4-2-3-1 system. Rademel Falcao had to be content with a place on the bench as Robin Van Persie led the line. West Brom started the brighter side and dominated the opening exchanges. Alan Irvine’s side made their early pressure pay as Stephane Sessegnon fired the hosts into the lead. Andre Wisdom broke down the United left after some misjudgement from Luke Shaw and cut the ball back to Sessegnon, who curled home emphatically from the edge of the area. It was no more than the Baggies deserved. As United grew into the game they employed the ball over the top to good effect, Robin Van Persie twice evading the home defence but failing to beat Myhill on either occasion. West Brom continued to look dangerous going forward with Berahino causing problems for United’s shaky back four.
Marouane Fellaini was introduced at half time with Ander Herrera making way and Belgian midfielder made an instant impact. After expertly controlling Angel DiMaria’s cross with his chest, he brushed aside Joleon Lescott and rifled his shot into the roof of the net for his first Manchester United goal. A huge moment for the much maligned midfielder. DiMaria continued to cause headaches for the West Brom defence whenever he got the ball and threatened with some dangerous crosses. However it was the home side who struck next, Chris Brunt’s slide rule pass releasing Berihno who having got beyond the United defence, expertly dispatched his finish into the corner of the net. Van Gaal sent Falcao on in search of an equaliser but it was Van Persie who came closest, his right footed effort coming back off the foot of the post, Januzaj could only blast the follow up over the bar. In the end, United’s blushes were saved by an unlikely source, Daley Blind. The holding midfielder curling a 25 yard side footer into the bottom of the net.
Although his side showed good resolve to earn a point, it was another night to forget for Van Gaal. More worries at the back and a poor showing from Mata, Van Persie and Januzaj going forward. Too often, United stood off West Brom and afforded the hosts control of the game. With Chelsea to come on Sunday and the Manchester derby the following week, a huge improvement is needed in terms of urgency, fight and tempo.