Manchester United will be hoping for a less tumultuous match than the 4-3 against Newcastle United but West Brom will pose a stern test. After the energy sapping, mistake-laden encounter with the Magpies, it will be interesting to see who Sir Alex Ferguson picks for Saturday’s fixture. Considering Ferguson was adamant about rotation during the festive season, changes are once again likely.
Anders Lindegaard – Recent de Gea mistakes and the constant series of fixtures indicates Lindegaard may start at home to West Brom.
Chris Smalling – Again, with no update on Rafael’s injury, and Phil Jones set to miss out, Smalling will surely feature at right-back. He will need to improve on his performance against Newcastle however, where he looked uncomfortable.
Nemanja Vidic – The desire to get Vidic back fit and to his best, combined with Ferdinand’s age and inability to play too many games too often, means the Serbian captain may feature versus West Brom ahead of his English teammate.
Jonny Evans – Because of their age and diminishing pace, Sir Alex Ferguson is unlikely to start Vidic and Ferdinand together at centre-back, thus paving the way for Evans to start this match.
Alexander Büttner – Patrice Evra has played in 80% of Manchester United’s matches this season, and could well be rested in this busy Christmas period. A game at home to West Brom looks like a decent opportunity to rest the Frenchman therefore giving the chance for Büttner to get a game.
Antonio Valencia – The continuing lack of right-wing options indicates Valencia will start against the Baggies. Perhaps slightly unnoticed, Valencia had a marginally improved game against Newcastle, and will hopefully continue that rise in form in Saturday’s game.
Michael Carrick – Although this would be his fifth start in a row, Carrick appears undroppable at the moment. His performance against Newcastle started dodgily before culminating in a masterclass, but his overall form puts him as the in-form player at United at the moment alongside Robin van Persie.
Tom Cleverley – The difference Cleverley made when he was brought on against Newcastle was huge, making him a favourite to start this game. Whilst Paul Scholes will almost certainly be rested after his exertions on Boxing Day, Darren Fletcher may get some minutes too.
Ashley Young – If Young has indeed overcome a minor injury, he will be vital on the left-wing. His tracking back and work-rate is under-appreciated, and will be necessary if Büttner does indeed start at left-back.
Danny Welbeck – With Rooney and Kagawa still not fit to start, the two striker positions will be filled by two of three players. Assuming he has fully recovered from illness, Welbeck will likely fill one of those positions after having not started for five games.
Javier Hernandez – Not only is van Persie in need of a rest, but he is also one yellow card away from a ban. If van Persie is indeed dropped, the movement and penetration of Welbeck and Hernandez should cause West Brom sufficient problems.
With so many forward options, Manchester United seem to need to play with at least two up front. The 4-4-2 formation (and variants of it) have brought so many goals this season and will undoubtedly be used against West Brom. A partnership of Hernandez and Welbeck up front would bring memories of the 4-0 win against Wigan earlier in the season, where both lined up together and had good games.
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