Man U vs. West Brom
Venue: Old Trafford
Kick off: 9PM
Manchester United’s search for a first home Premier League win of the season continues this evening when they welcome West Bromwich Albion to Old Trafford.
Just one of Man United’s 10 points so far this term has come on home territory, but they face a West Brom side struggling in the relegation zone without a win home or away so far in 2020-21.
A 3-1 win away to Everton immediately before the international break has helped to ease the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but he will know that anything other than victory this weekend will see the spotlight shine on his position as Manchester United manager once again.
Solskjaer and his players are seemingly as baffled as everyone else at United’s unpredictable and inconsistent form so far this season, with that win at Everton following disappointing defeats to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir, which in turn followed wins over Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig and a draw with Chelsea.
One aspect which has been consistent has been United’s home form in the league, and not in a good way either.
The statistics are damning – just one point from a possible 12 so far this season and no wins in their last six stretching back to last term, during which time they have amassed only three points from 18 on offer.
The Red Devils have also conceded more home goals than any other team in the division this season and have already lost three times at Old Trafford. Incredibly, they have only ever lost more than that in two complete seasons during the Premier League era – in 2013-14 and 2001-02.
Another defeat or draw on Saturday would see them fail to win any of their opening five home league games of a season for the first time since 1972-73 and would make for their longest winless home run since March 1978.
Indeed, had it not been for a perfect away record which makes their home form all the more bizarre, Man United would sit in a much worse position than what is already their worst start to a season since 1989-90.
On paper, Saturday’s match looks like one of the kindest fixtures possible to end such a torrid run as United go in search of back-to-back wins for the first time this season, against a team without a top-flight victory of any kind since May 2018.
However, West Brom have a surprisingly good record against United at Old Trafford in recent times, winning three and losing only one of their last five Premier League visits, including their last such trip in April 2018 when they were en route to relegation.
The Baggies had only won one of their previous 31 trips to Old Trafford before this recent run and could now record back-to-back away league wins over Man United for the first time since December 1980 – almost 40 years ago.
Indeed, United have not even scored against the Baggies in three of their last four home league meetings – as many blanks as in their previous 53 such matches – and could go three consecutive home league games without scoring against a specific opponent for the first time since September 1982 against Arsenal.
West Brom at Old Trafford are something of an unlikely bogey team for Man United, then, but the hosts will still be firm favourites for this one after seeing the Baggies pick up only three points from their eight games since earning promotion back to the top flight.
Slaven Bilic’s side have scored just once in the last five of those matches, and back-to-back defeats at the hands of Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur before the international break have left them in the relegation zone heading into gameweek nine.
West Brom have only ever failed to win their opening nine league games of a campaign once before – in 1985-86 – but may already have one eye on next weekend’s home meeting with fellow strugglers Sheffield United in what looks increasingly like an early relegation six-pointer.
That said, their record at Old Trafford in recent seasons, coupled with United’s bemusingly bad recent home form, will give them belief that they can pick up their first win of the season at the expense of Solskjaer’s side this weekend.
Man U possible XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles, McTominay, Fred, Mata, Fernandes, Rashford, Martial.
West Brom possible XI: Johnstone, Furling, Ivanovic, Bartley, O’Shea, Townsend, Gallagher, Livermore, Krovinovic, Pereira, Grant.