After bouncing back from a lacklustre performance against Manchester City by narrowly defeating Liverpool in the Capital One Cup, Manchester United will host West Bromwich Albion on Saturday in what will be the sixth Barclays Premier League match of the season for both clubs.
Currently eighth in the EPL table with seven points, the Red Devils need a win or a draw to avoid seeing the Baggies eclipse them in the standings.
With two wins, two defeats and a draw so far this season, United haven't exactly got off to the greatest of starts in the David Moyes' era.
The 1-0 victory over Liverpool on Wednesday is a step in the right direction, but West Brom are not a side to overlook on the schedule.
Steve Clarke's men quietened a bit of their early-season backlash by crushing Sunderland last Saturday for their first win of the season. They also played quite well in a loss to Arsenal that was decided by penalty kicks in the League Cup on Wednesday night.
As noted by West Brom assistant coach Kevin Keen, the Baggies missed out on opportunities to put the Gunners away before the shootout:
Keen: We had couple of excellent chances in extra-time we should have finished off. We shaded it in 90 mins. Penalties are always a lottery— WBAFCofficial (@WBAFCofficial) September 25, 2013
The last time these two sides squared off, it was Sir Alex Ferguson's final match and fireworks ensued. West Brom somehow maneouvered a 5-5 draw after falling behind by three goals late in the second half, upping the stakes for their return trip to Old Trafford this year.
In preparation for a pivotal match between two clubs fighting for table positioning, check out our preview for Saturday's tilt below.
Who wins this match?
When: Saturday, Sept. 28, at 10 a.m. ET (3 p.m. BST)
Where: Old Trafford; Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England
Watch/Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Listen: Sirius XM FC (Ch. 94)
Odds (via Bloomberg Sports): West Bromwich Albion (17.9 percent), Manchester United (61.4 percent), Draw (20.7 percent)
Top Storyline: Red Devils Need a Win
As this tweet from PRN Europe Sports suggests, West Brom aren't the team to suffer a setback against in the Premier League if you are a struggling manager:
SuperSport's Sammy Wejinya explains:
Villas-Boas, McCarthy and Di Canio were all sacked after losing to West Brom. Moyes takes United to the Hawthorns on Saturday. Coincidence?— Sammy Wejinya (@samywejinya) September 23, 2013
After a blistering start to the season in victories over Wigan Athletic (FA Community Shield) and Swansea City (Premier League), Moyes looked to have United on the right path.
Since then, the Red Devils have drawn with Chelsea and have losses to Liverpool and City on their ledger. While the loss to the Reds was avenged on Wednesday, it was done by the slimmest of margins thanks to a magnificent strike from Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez.
United are a tough club to stop at home but escaping with a narrow victory against West Brom could spell trouble at Old Trafford. A win is a win, but you get the sense that the Red Devils need to dominate to recapture some of their confidence.
Prediction: Manchester United 3, West Bromwich Albion 1
The argument for a West Brom upset can be made, especially since United looked hapless against Manchester City and the Baggies will be motivated to improve upon a tough loss to Arsenal in the Capital One Cup.
Robin van Persie's status, as mentioned here by the club's official Twitter account, also gives the visitors a glimpse of hope:
Moyes on van Persie: "I don't think Robin will play on Wednesday. But I think he'll have an outside chance for Saturday (West Brom)." #mufc— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 24, 2013
Unfortunately, the Red Devils have multiple stars capable of picking up the slack in the event that van Persie is unable to start. One is Chicharito, who would likely get the nod in the starting lineup again if last year's leading EPL scorer is still hampered by injury.
His teammates will likely have confidence in that decision:
One game, one goal: Chicharito is off the mark and his team-mates praised his winning strike against Liverpool. More: http://t.co/rnZcs1Ti2T— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 26, 2013
Tough to beat at home and tougher to beat when their backs are against the wall, expect Manchester United to come out firing on Saturday. The veterans know how badly the club needs a win and the ancillary performers will help make that possible.
West Brom will keep things close with a first-half goal, but United will pull away in the second half and keep the wolves away, so to speak, from Moyes for another week.
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