Manchester United travels to The Hawthorns to play West Bromwich Albion in the Barclays Premier League, as they look to reverse their luck on the road in the Midlands.
Disappointingly, United threw away another valuable two Premier League points conceding a late goal in their 1-1 draw with Birmingham City, so the Reds desperately need to reverse their terrible away form against a struggling West Brom team.
Defying all odds, United has ended 2010 by claiming top spot in the Premier League standings, but The Baggies, on the other hand, is heading in the opposite direction following a string of three straight losses to end the year.
In their two prior trips to the Midlands, the Reds could only manage to leave both Villa Park and St. Andrew’s with two points total, which has left Sir Alex Ferguson disappointed and because they have failed to extent their point total atop of the Premier League table.
Until their recent dip in form, West Brom was one of the surprises of the season with their spectacular away performances against both Arsenal and United.
Because of their poor form in the last month, Roberto Di Matteo’s men have dropped from ninth to 14th place in the standings.
Right now, WBA is level on points, 22, with three other clubs – Everton, Liverpool and Newcastle United – but their poor goal differential, -9, sees them behind each of those other teams.
In their nine home games this season, West Brom has only given up 13 goals while scoring 12, which is quite admirable for a newly-promoted club, who is trying to shed their “yo-yo” club status.
Overall, Albion has conceded a league-high 34 goals, which should have United’s attackers, who lead the league in scoring, biting at the chomp.
United, level with Arsenal, lead the Premier League with 39 goals scored – having played one less game, which is only 14 better than West Brom.
Sir Alex Ferguson has been spot on with his prediction about the league this season, because the Baggies is just three points from the relegation zone, but only five points off of seventh placed Sunderland.
This clearly shows just how tight the league has become, and how meaningful every point is for clubs like them – especially stealing one off big club like they did the last time.
The last time these two sides met up, it was on the cusp of the news being broke that Wayne Rooney wanted to leave Old Trafford, which his half-hearted substitute performance confirmed.
Uncharacteristically, United blew a two goal lead and gifted Albion a point in the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.
United stormed out to a lead in the first five minutes when Javier Hernandez tucked the ball home following Scott Carson spilling of Nani’s free-kick into a very dangerous area for the youngster to pounce.
The game started to really open up and Nani drove the ball into the West Brom’s net following a good one-two with Dimitar Berbatov.
The game changed when Ryan Giggs went down with his second recurrence of doing his hamstring in as many games, and that led to an unbalanced formation.
However, United should have been home and dry by then with the amount of chances that were created, but some awful finishing by numerous players allowed WBA to still have a fighting chance.
In the second-half two almost unforgivable defensive errors by Patrice Evra and Edwin van der Sar allowed Albion to get back into the game and then steal an equalizer.
After United needlessly gave away free-kick near the corner flag, the ball caromed off Evra and passed a helpless van der Sar, but five minutes the big goalkeeper fumbled a very tame cross into the path of Somen Tchoyi, who happily banged the ball into an empty net.
The supporters eagerly await the status of Nani, because the Portuguese winger has been in scintillating on the season, and his presence was surely missed in United’s last two games against Sunderland and Birmingham.
Michael Owen traveled for the game against Birmingham City, but it looks like if he does not get a game, or make at least the bench for the game against West Brom, he could be off to find first-team football.
Sir Alex showed that he was short of options out on the wings, which pushed him into selecting a foreign 4-3-3 formation against Birmingham, but do not count on the same type of line-up again.
Manchester United will hopefully finally conjure up the resistance that is needed to win away from Old Trafford for only the second time all season against West Bromwich Albion, but it will take a total team performance in what should really be a highly-entertaining Barclays Premier League match.
Out: A. Valencia (leg), O. Hargreaves (hamstring), P. Scholes (groin), J. O’Shea (calf); Questionable: Nani (hip)
T. Kuszczak; W. Brown, R. Ferdinand, N. Vidic, Fabio; Nani, D. Fletcher, Anderson, G. Obertan; J. Hernandez, D. Berbatov
West Bromwich Albion 1 Manchester United 2