When he took the Manchester United job in the summer Louis van Gaal asked to be judged after three months, and three months in you have to say there has been an improvement. Last season’s United finished seventh, but this season’s are sixth.
In reality there is far more than just one Premier League place that is different about the club, with the signings of some established, genuinely world class footballers not surprisingly energising the fans more than the arrival of Marouane Fellaini ever did.
But United come to The Hawthorns having failed to win in anywhere but Manchester for six months, a spell which of course included the summer break but does encompass seven matches against opposition as diverse at Bayern Munich and the MK Dons.
As they showed in their last away game at Leicester the defence remains a serious worry, but you get the feeling that Van Gaal will sort that out in the long-term. The signing of the excellent Daley Blind to play in front of them is a good start.
However it is still early days – something Van Gaal no doubt agrees with when he claimed this week that his 'three months' promise was “very stupid”, which you can be sure that he wouldn’t have uttered if United were a little higher in the table.
They’d go above West Ham and Liverpool and into fourth with a win at The Hawthorns, but a win might be difficult to achieve.
West Brom were somewhat unfortunate to lose at Anfield last time out, but before then they’d won three in a row.
In Saido Berahino they have one of the in-form forwards in the country, and a player who holds great memories of facing United after he scored against them in a win at Old Trafford last season – one of the darker days in David Moyes’s collection of them.
Before Liverpool they’d kept back-to-back league clean sheets including one at Tottenham, and although the defence will be tested here, the centre-back partnership of Joleon Lescott and Craig Dawson does show immense promise.
You get the feeling that they’ll score, something which is borne out by the 1.64 available for both sides to find the net in this Monday night fixture, but it certainly looks to be a case of just how long the Baggies can stay in this game for.
Fall behind early and they could get hammered, but keep it tight and play on that suspect United back-line and they could be in business.
The home win or draw Double Chance looks to be the bet at 2.18, whilst West Brom are 3.75 in the Draw No Bet Market and 5.00 for the outright win for those of you who are very brave.
Crosses into the box looked to be a strength of West Brom’s against Burnley recently, whilst United notably conceded to one against Everton, when David De Gea’s performance earned them a victory.
Eyes are inevitably drawn to Berahino who is 7.50 to notch first and 3.30 at any time, but with the hosts looking to exploit set pieces then centre-back Dawson – a United fan – could be worth a punt at 8.50 to score at any time.
The visitors – who are still without the suspended Wayne Rooney – do of course have obvious goal threats, with Radamel Falcao a generous 2.00 to score at any time, and Juan Mata tempting at 3.50.
West Brom 2 Manchester United 2 – 13.00
Both teams to score – 1.64
West Brom or Draw Double Chance - 2.18
Craig Dawson to score at any time – 8.50
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