28th December 2012
Manchester United made a giant step towards the Premier League title as they came from behind three times to record a 4-3 win over Newcastle, but everybody at the club will be hoping for a more comfortable victory against West Brom. The Baggies kept their top 4 hopes alive with an impressive triumph at Loftus Road and they clearly have nothing to lose at Old Trafford.
The 4-3 victory over Newcastle could easily prove to be the key to United’s title bid given that the hard-fought win over Magpies combined with City’s defeat at the Stadium of Light allowed the Red Devils to increase their lead at the top to seven points. Things could have easily been different seeing that Newcastle were in front not once, not twice, but three times, and City had a great chance to close the gap behind their arch rivals to just one point. However, United showed a lot of character to record another last-gasp win and with Javier Hernandez becoming a match winner once again, it was same old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to rest several key players ultimately did not cost his side precious points, but the Scottish manager will probably be delighted to welcome back the likes of Tom Cleverley and Nemanja Vidic to the side. With Wayne Rooney sidelined through a knee problem, Javier Hernandez looks set to keep his place in the side.
West Bromwich may have been on a major uptrend over the last few years, but it is fair to say everybody was surprised to see the Baggies climb to Premiership top 4 after an impressive start to the league campaign. The three-match losing run seriously threatened to hurt club’s ambitions, especially as it was followed by a dull draw at home against West Ham, but back to back triumphs over in-form Norwich and improving QPR proved this team have got plenty of character. The Baggies will need more than character and motivation to get something from Old Trafford, but after struggling Newcastle scored three goals at the Theatre of Dreams, surely West Brom will be able to score at least once. Will that be enough for a positive result, it remains to be seen. Steve Clarke also made some changes to the starting line-up in midweek, meaning Peter Odemwingie and Liam Ridgewell should return, but Goran Popov, Claudio Yacob and Steven Reid remain injury doubts.
Manchester United can be tipped to continue scoring goals for fun, regardless of the look of their starting line-up, but the back line just cannot seem to stop conceding, which is going to be a big problem against counter-attacking West Brom. Therefore, backing both teams to score looks the right thing to do.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 19/20