Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion – Van Gaal turns to Santa?

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It’s only November but Manchester United have already had their Christmas party and fans are speculating if the early festivities are because under fire boss Louis Van Gaal has had to ask Santa Claus for goals.

United’s fans are used to ‘attack, attack, attack’ but have endured two goalless bore-draws in their last two EPL games and only saw the drought lifted by Wayne Rooney’s header in the Champions League 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow on Tuesday.

Boos have rung around the Old Trafford this season with the Theatre of Dreams becoming a place of deep frustration for fans. The form of both sides ahead of tomorrow’s match suggests little sign of a thrilling encounter.

EPL’s two lowest shooters

United are averaging just ten shots a game and only West Brom have attempted fewer this season with 109 strikes in their 11 matches (United have 110). From those, United have hit the back of the net 15 times, while West Brom have scored ten.

The last time United went three EPL games without scoring was in August 2007. Diehard fans will point to their unbeaten home record this season as well as league leading seven clean sheets – including the last three EPL games – as reasons to keep the faith.

The Red Devils sit in fourth place after 11 games, just four points behind the leaders Man City and Arsenal but West Brom will make tricky opponents for Van Gaal’s men.

Baggies as boring as United?

Their recent record against Man Utd is impressive and the Baggies can make it three wins in a row at Old Trafford with victory tomorrow. They are the last team to win at United in any competition – Jona Olson’s strike securing three points for West Brom on May 2, and have lost just one of their last five games against the Reds.

However, under manager Tony Pulis they have stuttered to put a consistent run of form together and sit 12th in the table on 14 points with four wins and two draws from 11 games.

West Brom have been impressive away from the Hawthorns, losing just two of their last nine away games and winning five of those.

Crystal Palace are the only side to have scored against them away and they have four clean sheets from their last five away games.

Team news

Morgan Schniederlin missed the midweek Champions League match but is expected to be back in United’s midfield against West Brom on Saturday; however the fans’ focus will be on United’s front line with pressure on Rooney, Antony Martial and their go-to-man Marouane Fellaini.

Antonio Valencia’s foot problem leaves questions over his availability but defender Matteo Darmian is definitely ruled out given his one-match ban.

West Brom boss Pulis remained tight lipped about the health of his squad but James Morrison looks likely to be named in the starting 11 having made a return from injury as a substitute against Leicester last weekend.

By: Joe Cahal