Manchester United will be looking to follow up last Saturday’s stunning 3-2 comeback win over arch-rivals Manchester City with another three points when they welcome basement side West Bromwich Albion to Old Trafford, this weekend. Jose Mourinho’s men will undoubtedly be buoyed by their second-half showing at the Etihad Stadium and will be looking to take that form into Sunday’s clash with the Baggies.
The Reds boss has a selection problem on his hands, especially in the attacking third, with a number of offensive players in peak form. Not for the first time this season, much of the focus will be on midfielder Paul Pogba, whose two-goal performance in the second 45 minutes of Manchester derby was without a doubt his most impressive since returning to Old Trafford from Juventus back in the summer of 2016. Alongside the Frenchman, Ander Herrera put in a typically busy showing against the noisy neighbours and there can be little doubting the impact that he had on last Saturday’s result.
On the left flank, Alexis Sanchez is starting to grow into his red shirt and his two assists against City will do his confidence a world of good. In all likelihood, the Chile international will once again keep out the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, who could be consigned to a role on the bench. Up front, top scorer Romelu Lukaku has bagged 26 goals in his debut season at Old Trafford and is fast emerging as a true Reds leader – the Belgian will fancy his chances against a sinking, manager-less West Brom side that have leaked in 52 goals all season. It remains to be seen who Mourinho is likely to opt for to make up the rest of his attacking side, with players such as Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata both vying for first-team spots.
On the injury front, United enjoy a relatively clean bill of health, with second-choice goalkeeper Sergio Romero the only serious doubt for the Baggies’ visit. At the back, meanwhile, centre-back Phil Jones has returned to training following a two-month injury lay-off but is unlikely to feature for the Reds at the weekend.
When these two sides met back in December, United ran out 2-1 winners at the Hawthorns stadium, thanks to first-half strikes by Lukaku and Lingard, although Gareth Barry’s late consolation made for a nervy end to proceedings. The Reds’ victory over their arch-rivals last weekend made it five consecutive league wins for them, as they strengthen their grip on second place and are currently four points ahead of nearest challengers Liverpool, having played one game less.
Albion, meanwhile, are sleepwalking their way to the Championship, with the 10-point gap between them and safety likely to be too big at this stage of the season.
With the league title all but set to go to the Etihad, United must ensure that they maintain their current momentum for clashes with West Brom and Bournemouth in midweek, as they prepare to face Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday week. That represents the Reds’ final chance pick up silverware this campaign and Mourinho’s men must ensure that they grasp that opportunity with both hands – although only after seeing past the Baggies, this weekend.