United v WBA Preview!
United resume their Premier League campaign with an interesting looking fixture against newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion. Sir Alex Ferguson will be thankful, after a poor run of results on the road that the fixtures resume with a home one, but West Bromwich Albion could prove to be tricky customers having won at Arsenal on their last away trip.
After a long absence could this really be the day we see Owen Hargreaves pull on a United shirt and participate in some of the action?
That would certainly appear to be the case with his surgeon, the world renowned Dr Richard Steadman reported as having remarked,
'Owen should play some part on Saturday.'
'Our physical therapist, Luke O'Brien, has been working very closely with United's coaches on his rehab.'
'It's been a long road back and there have been some setbacks along the way.
'But I've got a lot of admiration for the way Owen has responded - he's worked very hard and has never given up. Things are looking good for him now.'
It may only be an appearance from the bench but what a fillet!
From the opposition camp, West Brom, arriving at Old Trafford on the back of a fine win away to Arsenal, are in fine voice as the fixture approaches. However, it appears that one of their players, Graham Dorrans is a little wary of what United can do but is looking forward dot possibly spring a shock when he remarks,
"I don`t think there`s any pressure on us."
"Most of the pressure is going to be on them to win because they`re challenging for the title."
"We`ve had a couple of good results and some people think we can go there and give them a game, but they`re a world class side."
"We`ll just have to work hard and hopefully we`ll get something."
But the West Brom manager, Roberto Di Matteo, is a little more confident as he heads towards Old Trafford, commenting,
"All the pundits are writing us off and quite rightly so because Manchester United have a tremendous home record."
"There`s not much expectation for us to get much out of it, but that might be good from our side because we`re not expected to get anything mad maybe we can surprise somebody else."
I`m not a great lover of surprises, are you?
Manchester United Team News:
Sir Alex, hopefully, doesn`t have any injury concerns with regards to those away on international duty.
Definitely out will be Antonio Valencia, a long term injury victim although the indications from Old Trafford are that Owen Hargreaves, almost the forgotten man of the United and England scene, is set to play some part in proceedings.
With it essential that United close the gap on the top two of Chelsea and Manchester City, Sir Alex is likely to throw his big guns at this one, even though there is a midweek Champions League fixture to consider.
Wayne Rooney missing at Sunderland is likely to resume his striking partnership with the on form Dimitar Berbatov and Sir Alex will also be hoping that he can call on the ageing duo of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs to influence matters in midfield.
Plus, there`s also the added bonus of Rio Ferdinand playing a second United game, in succession to stiffen up a defence that hasn`t looked as secure as it should do this term.
Player to watch: Wayne Rooney
Yet another below par performance, this time for England on Tuesday night, but simmering below the surface we just know that Wayne is desperate to return to his old self, could West Bromwich Albion be the victims with Wayne returning to top form?
West Brom Team News:
Roberto Di Matteo brings his squad to Old Trafford with Cech and Miller both unlikely to feature through injury and Mattack and Odemwingie both rated as doubtful.
If fit United will need to be careful of Peter Odemwingie, a striker signed by Di Matteo who has looked really lively in recent matches and could trouble our back four.
Player to watch: Peter Odemwingie
Not much was known about this guy when he joined West Brom but he`s shown that he can be a right handful in the games in which he`s played.
Match Facts & Stats
The record books show that West Bromwich Albion last won at Old Trafford back in December 1978 but what a fantastic game it must have been with West Brom emerging 5-3 victors. It was a season that saw West Brom finish third!
That win also means that West Brom have never beaten Manchester United since the league was formed.
The last twelve fixtures have seen 11 United wins and 1 draw!
The man in the middle will be Mark Jones ably assisted by his two assistants - Darren Cant and Andy Garratt. The fourth official will be Kevin Friend.
After West Brom got absolutely taken apart by Chelsea on the opening day of the season many people expected them to be the Premier League`s fall-guys. But it hasn`t worked out that way and last time, on the road, Roberto Di Matteo saw his charges take Arsenal by surprise and return to the Hawthorns with all three points. Now whether good fortune smiled on them that day I`m not prepared to say but suffice to say I reckon we`ll have too much for this lot and we`ll cruise past the finishing post at least two goals better off then them to keep the pressure up on those above us and, hopefully, climb above Manchester City.
Midweek will witness us resume our Champions League fixtures with a home tie against Bursaspor whilst the following weekend will see us hit the road again (groan) to play Stoke in a fixture covered by Sky!