Manchester United got back to winning ways in midweek following the disappointing setback that was their Manchester derby defeat to City, beating Bournemouth by a single goal under wintery skies at Old Trafford.
On Sunday they are back on the road to face Alan Pardew’s West Brom, knowing that nothing less than a win will be enough to keep the pressure off them as they look to rebuild faith and confidence.
Jose Mourinho has come under much scrutiny in the days since the 2-1 loss to City, but he should have the belief in his side to overcome a struggling Baggies outfit as a relentless December calendar continues apace.
MAN UTD INJURIES
Phil Jones returned to action on Wednesday following a seven-game absence with the injury he had picked up on England duty despite six painkilling injections. Marcos Rojo could be back in contention after missing the win over Bournemouth due to a head injury suffered in his challenge on David Silva against Manchester City.
Eric Bailly is out for the forseeable future though with a serious ankle injury sustained on international duty with Cote d’Ivoire, with Jose Mourinho explaining on Wednesday: “We have tried the conservative treatment but if the conservative treatment is not resolving it, probably he will have surgery.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been nurtrured more closely in recent weeks after four straight substitute appearances on his return from ACL damage, and he is again likely to be among the substitutes.
Michael Carrick will be given plenty of time to recover following a procedure to deal with an irregular heart rhythm but is not expected to return to play for the time being at least, while there is some hope that Marouane Fellaini might be available again after a knee injury.
MAN UTD SUSPENSIONS
Paul Pogba serves the final game of a three-match suspension following his sending-off against Arsenal for a bad challenge on Hector Bellerin.
Ander Herrera was kept in reserve until late in the evening against Bournemouth perhaps in part due to his being on the verge of suspension, and a booking against West Brom would see him pick up a one-match ban.
Ashley Young is another who is one yellow card shy of a ban, while the Baggies have Jonny Evans, James McClean, Claudio Yacob and Allan Nyom all walking disciplinary tightropes.
MAN UTD POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP
Jose Mourinho made four changes against Bournemouth but could revert back to something like the side which lost to Manchester City for the tricky trip to The Hawthorns.
Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay both impressed in midweek but could step aside for Ashley Young and Ander Herrera, while Marcus Rashford could be recalled after a positive impact as a substitute against Eddie Howe’s side.
Mourinho will have to decide between Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata in the number 10 position as Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s latest first-team exile looks set to continue.
At the back there could be a late decision between Phil Jones, who stood out against Bournemouth, and Marcos Rojo, who sat out the match due to a head injury.
BOURNEMOUTH TEAM NEWS
West Brom have gone 16 competitive games without a win heading into Sunday’s clash, including 15 in the Premier League alone, but they will be hoping that new manager Alan Pardew can rally his players for the visit of United in much the same way he led them to a point against Liverpool on Wednesday.
Pardew has changed the shape of the Baggies side since replacing Tony Pulis, sending them out with a back-four instead of a three-man defence in his three games in charge to this point. Albion have borne the fruit in terms of a tighter back line, conceding only a single goal to Swansea so far, but they have yet to score since Pardew took the reins.
Salomon Rondon, Jay Rodriguez, Hal Robson-Kanu and Matt Phillips share the distinction of leading the West Brom scoring charts with just two goals apiece in league play this term, underlining where the club’s problems have lain in the last four months.
BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS
- West Bromwich Albion have lost eight of their 11 Premier League games against the Red Devils at the Hawthorns (W1 D2).
- West Brom have won three of their eight Premier League clashes against Manchester United since Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012-13 season – they had won none of their previous 14 games against the Red Devils under Ferguson (D3 L11).
- No manager has beaten Jose Mourinho more often in the Premier League than Alan Pardew (3) – level with Mark Hughes.
- This could be Gareth Barry’s 36th Premier League appearance against Manchester United – only one player has faced an opponent more often in Premier League history (Ryan Giggs vs Liverpool, 38).
- No goalkeeper has kept more clean sheets since the start of last season with the big five European leagues than David de Gea (24 – level with Jan Oblak).
- Romelu Lukaku has had a hand in seven goals in six Premier League starts against West Brom (four goals, three assists). Lukaku scored a hat-trick the last time he played in this fixture in May 2013, doing so for the Baggies in a 5-5 draw at the Hawthorns; no player has ever scored a hat-trick for both clubs in a Premier League fixture.
- Since the start of 2016-17, Romelu Lukaku has scored 30 goals in 38 Premier League appearances versus “non-big- six” sides.