West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester United

Pre-Match Analysis:

After a run of great performances and wins, the 29th game of the season sees United face West Brom at the Hawthorns. United's football has really picked up of late and we are starting to turn our season around. Wins against Arsenal and Watford have certainly increased our chances of at least a top- five finish. However, the most prestigious places at the top are becoming harder to settle since the top 6 all have a good chance of finishing the season well. This is the crunch-time part of the season: mistakes simply cannot be made and if they are then you will be punished ( as shown by Arsenal yet again yesterday). LVG and his army will need to come today in full gear to ensure that we claim another valuable 3 points.

Against Watford, it was a hard game but we were excellent in grinding out a result. This is the United that we missed: playing attacking football yet being ruthless.

The past few games have showcased the young talent that United have been able to nurture. Even though we now have players coming back from
Injury such as Fellaini and Jones, we hope that our shining youth still get opportunities to play.

West Brom are in the bottom half of the table but they have been able to get some results. They do have some great players such as Beranhino and former United players Darren Fletcher and Jonny Evans. They have a great defence so it will be difficult to break them down.

As well as the revelation of our youth players, the team's confidence is starting to grow. Depay in particular is playing with more freedom and enjoyment so hopefully he can find himself on the scoresheet today.

Van Gaal won't look to change too much from the side who beat Watford. He needs to be given praise for the way that the team are performing now after being under immense pressure. Realistically, our aims this season should be finishing in the top four if not the top five and winning at least one trophy- either the FA Cup or the Europa League.

As a score prediction, we see it being a tight game so we are going for 2-1 United! Hope you enjoy the game! #GGMU

Line-Up Analysis:

Virtually the same team as last week will be playing today. Last 2 weeks were very fortunate for United as they picked up a 3-2 win against Arsenal and a 1-0 against Watford. Today's defence is virtually the same but with the introduction of 2 new faces, Darmian and Smalling. This will strengthen the defence of United, no doubt about that. In the midfield we see Carrick, Herrera and Mata. Mata has been performing really well the last few games so there should be no reason why he shouldn't be able to turn up today. Again I expect him to orchestrate the United attacks today as he is the key playmaker. Herrera played well against Arsenal and so did Carrick so they are expected to continue that form. In attack, there is Martial who United fans will be happy to see again and Rashford and Lingard. Just as I expected, United fans have placed heavy expectations on youngster Rashford and I don't see that being a good thing in the long run of his performances for the rest of the season.

First Half Analysis:

For the first 10-15 minutes we looked well on top and created a few chances and then Mata got his first yellow card for stopping a quick free kick. 5 minutes later, he picked up another yellow for a late challenge and after the sending off, West Brom looked well on top and in control of the game.

We were playing some good football but once we went down to ten men we were all over the place and our passing was really slow, and at around 30-40 minutes, West Brom looked the more likely ones to score and after that we were just waiting for the half time whistle.

Second Half Analysis:

An abject and soporific performance from the Reds in the second half, as the Baggies inflict an eighth defeat of the season on the Reds. After a somewhat a bright start by the Reds after the break interval despite being down to 10 men, the Reds dominated the proceedings early in the second 45 minutes. Penetrating drives from the mercurial Anthony Martial and a close strike from Jesse Lingard looker to set the tone for United as they sought out an opener after Juan Mata's dismissal in the first half. However, slack defending from the culpable Daley Blind allowed Salomon Rondon to power home into the bottom corner after a neat touch and turn from Sebastian Pocognoli's corner. Despite the setback, United rarely threatened former-Red Ben Foster in the Albion net and struggled to create any chances of note in the last 25 minutes, as the Baggies cruised to a win. Questionable substitutions by Van Gaal occurred in the last half an hour of the game, as he took off Ander Herrera for Morgan Schneiderlin and Matteo Darmian for Timothy Fosu-Mensah as the Reds searched for an equaliser. The two defensive substitutions brought much surprise, especially the latter and Memphis Depay was thrown on for Rashford in the last 15 minutes in the last throw of the dice by Van Gaal, to no avail. Reflecting on the performance, the only real performers in the game wereMartial and Smalling, who gave a solid performance whenever he was required and was unfortunate to be let down by amateur defending. Similarly the rest of the players were ineffective throughout the game as the Reds failed to grip a stranglehold on the game after Mata's dismissal for two fouls. A blow to United's top four hopes has knocked the wind out of many fans' sails, yet attention must now be turned to the crucial last 16 tie against Liverpool at Anfield on Thursday in the Europa League. This represents the chance to turn in an improved performance against our arch-rivals and regain confidence after a morale-sapping display in the Midlands.

Individual Player Performances:

Goalkeeper and Defence:

David De Gea - 6
Not a bad performance from him, making a few saves but couldn't stop Rondon's effort.

Darmian - 5
Poor game from the Italian, no surprise he was taken off. Kept needlessly losing possession. 

Smalling - 7
Solid return from injury and he had a reasonably good game. Great to see him back in the team.

Blind - 5
Wasn't his best game today and could've potentially prevented Rondon's goal, looks in need of a rest after playing many games consecutively. 

Rojo - 6
Pretty average perfomance as he did attempt to get forward on numerous occasions but nothing came of it. Wasn't good enough before the goal.


Carrick - 5
Didn't look his usual composed self and passed sideways far too often. 

Herrera - 6
Tried to have some impact on the game with forward passes, not the best game and was subbed. 

Mata - 4
Had a great run early on but cost us the game by getting a red card due to his stupidity. 


Lingard - 7
Tried to make things happen with his pace and trickery and almost scored. 

Martial - 7
Kept trying to take people on as usual and make things happen, unfortunately didn't happen today.

Rashford - 6
Wasn't a poor perfomance but couldn't quite have the same impact he's had in previous games. 


Schneiderlin - 6
Didn't make much of a difference to the game with his introduction.

Memphis - 5
Didn't have any influence when he came on.

Fosu Mensah - 6
Nowhere near enough time to have any sort of impact, but wasn't bad.

Overall Analysis:

Even the biggest Manchester United fan will admit that we did not deserve yachting from this game. It felt as if we'd gone back to the worst days under LVG this season. This was frankly an abysmal performance. Of course the task was not made any easier by Juan Mata's idiocy with the attacking midfielder getting sent off for two stupid and needless yellow cards. Credit has to be given to West Brom and Tony Pulis who set up the perfect game plan to stifle the limited attacking qualities that United possess.

This game highlighted everything wrong with van Gaal's United. The lack of pace in the team and the inability to press high up the pitch is startling. Michael Carrick was given the run around by ex team mate Darren Fletcher a player who was sold my Louis van Gaal. Once again United have failed to win away from home under van Gaal which has happened far too often in his tenure. Van Gaal failed to influence the game with his substitutions. With the most bizarre of them all seeing Tim Fosu-Mensah replacing Matteo Darmian with minutes remaining. A needles change to make especially with Marouane Fellani on the bench when an alternative was needed to try to get something from the game.

Going forward this result doesn't change much. It's common knowledge that Louis van Gaal will be replaced this Summer which gives the impression that the FA Cup and Europa League will take priority over the League. One thing for sure is that this squad will not win the Europa League or finish in the top 4 if we continue like this. The FA Cup is the best we can hope for in reality.


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