West Brom v Man Utd
Sunday 14 February, 14:00 GMT
Baggies dead certs for the drop
There are 15 games to go for West Brom but we’re surely already calling last orders in the last chance saloon for the Baggies after starting this set of fixtures 11 points from safety, having played a game more than Burnley, with a far worse goal difference.
They’re dead certs for relegation at 1.051/20 and odds-on favourites at 1.674/6 to finish bottom of the pile such is their rancid run of form, and especially their woeful defending having shipped 54 goals this season – 15 more than the next worst.
At least Sam Allardyce got his first goals and first point at the Hawthorns in their last home game against Fulham, but that still makes it just one point, three goals scored and a mind-boggling 24 conceded in their last six matches on home soil.
Palace, Leeds and Man City all hit five against them and next up is the best away team in the league – perhaps Baggies fans are happy they’re not allowed in to see them this season.
Bruno back to inspire
United were back to looking distinctly pedestrian against West Ham as they sneaked through their FA Cup tie on Tuesday, but they’ll be able to start Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay and Edinson Cavani after all three started on the bench for that game.
There was a noticeable difference when the trio came on, especially Fernandes, and if there is one worry for United as they try and at least give Man City something to think about it’s that they’re too reliant on the Portuguese star at times. When Bruno turns up United shine, but they’re a different side without him.
Fernandes averages a goal or assist once every 84 minutes in the Premier League, which is the best ratio in the competition’s history of anyone with at least five goal involvements, so any team would naturally miss someone with that historic level of creativity.
They may not need too much against a such a porous defence as West Brom’s though, and even though realistically too far behind City, they’re still well on course for a top four spot and will fancy adding another three points for their cause on Sunday.
United to continue away run
Man Utd are rightly huge 1.330/100 favourites here with West Brom 9.5 to follow Sheffield United’s example and grab an upset victory, while it’s 5.59/2 they can get a point as they somehow did against Man City and Liverpool.
Allardyce’s problems have come at home though, and United are unbeaten in 18 Premier League games on the road – their longest run in the competition. They’ve also won nine of the last 12 at the Hawthorns, scoring at least twice in 11 of those and bagging 31 in total.
The Baggies did show against Liverpool and Man City that they could defend against the best and get something, but that discipline and commitment hasn’t been evident at home, and even if they managed to score first here (3.7511/4) it’s still no guarantee as Man Utd have won all seven away games they’ve conceded first in this season.
Anything good coming from West Brom will come through Matheus Pereira and Semi Ajayi, who have scored five of the last six goals in league games West Brom have won points in.
Going for goals
You can’t depend on a lot in the Premier League this season but, without tempting fate, goals seem assured here, with the only ground to have seen more league goals than the Hawthorns (38) this season being Old Trafford (43) – boosted by that 9-0 hammering of Southampton.
United are top scorers on the road with 24 with their away games averaging around 3.3 goals per game – West Brom’s home matches clock in at just under 3.5 goals a game.
Over 3.5 match goals then at 2.47/5 looks a decent route to profit in this one, throwing in the likely away victory for an extra cherry on the top at 2.89/5.
In the player markets, Cavani is odds-on at 1.9110/11 to score for the third league game in a row, while Marcus Rashford is worth a look at 2.111/10 with six of his eight league goals this season coming away from home.
Manchester United are currently unbeaten in 18 Premier League away games (W13 D5), their longest such run on the road in top-flight history. There have been six longer runs by four different teams in the top-flight, most recently a 21-game run for Liverpool between January 2019-February 2020.