Manchester United vs. West Bromwich Albion
In the Monday night game, the surging Manchester United travels to the Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion. So far in the young season, West Brom are 1-1-1 at home, having beaten up on Burnley three weeks ago in their last home match. The Baggies seem to be carrying on their long tradition of being offensively challenged, as they’ve already been shutout three times in seven games. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that’s been paying attention, because outside Sadio Berahino, no one on the squad has any real firepower. Manchester United on the other hand is a whole different story. Since the transfer window slammed shut, the Red Devils have significantly upgraded their attacking options with the additions of Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria, and Ander Herrera. The issue with United so far is their lapses of intensity and haphazard defending. There has been a noticeable improvement on the back line over the last two matches against Everton and West Ham, as they’ve switched to a four-man back line featuring Rafael, Luke Shaw, Patrick McNair, and Marcos Rojo. With that said, even with the improved play of the back line keeper David De Gea had to more or less stand on his head to keep Everton from scoring the equalizer two weeks ago. Whether this is the week the new look Red Devils squad puts it all together remains to be seen.
I expect United to employee their usual 2-1-3-4 formation with Robin van Persie and Falcao up front with Juan Mata filling in for the suspended Wayne Rooney in the playmaker role. The midfield should consist of Ander Herrera and Angel Di Maria out wide with Dutchman Daley Blind patrolling the middle. The back line should stay the same with Rafael at right back, Luke Shaw at left back, and Patrick McNair and Marcos Rojos anchoring the middle.
The Baggies have typically stuck with a 1-3-2-4 formation using young gun Sadio Berahino in the lone striker role. They have a midfield with some interesting value plays in Stephane Sessegnon, James Morrison, Craig Gardner, Chris Brunt, and Graham Dorrans. Sessegnon is by far the most intriguing of the bunch, a few years ago he was a great value as a 4th midfielder on fantasy teams. The difference is he played mostly as a second striker at Sunderland, but has been deployed primarily as a playmaker in the Baggies attack. So his lack of form could be due to his playing out of position. West Brom’s back four consists of Sebastien Pocognoli, Andre Wisdom, Joleon Lescott, and Craig Dawson. Pocognoli and Dawson are interesting options as a third or fourth defender. Overall a solid group, I’d expect them to at least make it difficult for the United attackers to find space in the box.
West Bromwich Albion:
Players to Watch
Angel Di Maria, Midfielder – Manchester United
David De Gea, Goalkeeper – Manchester United
Robin van Persie, Forward – Manchester United
Sadio Berahino, Forward – West Bromwich Albion
Stephane Sessegnon, Midfielder – West Bromwich Albion
James Morrison, Midfielder – West Bromwich Albion
Manchester United 3-1