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Dublin: 12 °C Sunday 5 April, 2020
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WITH MANCHESTER CITY and Arsenal not in action today, Manchester United had the opportunity to jump into second spot in the Barclay’s Premier League with victory over West Brom this evening.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the action. Email steve@the42.ie, tweet @The42_ie, post a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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We’ll start with team news and something of surprise as Robin van Persie returns from injury to take his place in the United starting XI:

Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, McNair, Blind, Mata, Herrera, Fellaini, Young, Rooney, van Persie

Subs: Valdes, Blackett, Jones, Di Maria, Januzaj, Pereira, Falcao

West Brom: Myhill, Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Lescott, Brunt, Yacob, Gardner, Mulumbu, Fletcher, Berahino

Subs: Rose, Wisdom, Baird, Sessegnon, McManaman, Ideye, Anichebe.

Louis van Gaal will be looking for a response from his players following a disappointing couple of weeks.

For their part, West Brom are still not safe but there are probably enough teams struggling below them to have to worry about getting anything more than a draw today.

We’re just minutes from kick off here which means no more listening to Thierry Henry and Dwight York. Thankfully.

Maybe they’re playing the ‘plucky underdog’ Rocky from I and IV?

1Mins

And the visitors get us under way at Old Trafford.

3Mins

West Brom have the game’s first half chance. A high ball into the United area isn’t dealt with and Darren Fletcher attempts a volley from distance.

Unfortunately for the former United man, it’s still travelling skyward.

4Mins

Very cagey from both teams so far. United haven’t really managed to string more than three or four passes together while West Brom look to follow Everton and Chelsea’s lead and attack the home side on the break.

5Mins

Another nice touch from the United faithful as they stand up to applaud Rio Ferdinand — who, of course, wore number five — in the fifth minute.

8Mins

A long ball from Chris Smalling sees United into the West Brom area for the first time in the game but Van Persie can’t control a difficult opportunity and the ball goes wide.

11Mins

United enjoying more than 85% of the possession so far but not doing anything with it.

13Mins

Ashley Young with the game’s first real chance as he cuts inside the defender and shoots on his right foot. The ball is deflected wide off RVP though.

15Mins

Lescott with the first chance on target but his header from a corner drops safely into David de Gea’s hands.

16Mins

CHANCE! And a chance for United down the other end. West Brom don’t deal with tame Van Persie effort and only a desperate diving tackle stops Ashley Young from slotting home from close range.

That’s better from the home side.

19Mins

CHANCE! Another chance for Van Persie.

Young does well down the left wing but the Dutchman can shoots just wide at the near post.

24Mins

Ashley Young looks the best player of the park for United and you suspect he’ll be at the heart of anything they create today. West Brom doing a great job of nullifying everyone else mind.

28Mins

West Brom have their first have chance for a while but Lescott can’t do anything from the corner and we stay 0-0.

31Mins

United have had a couple of quick breaks but, inevitably, when the ball falls to Van Persie he slows it down and the visitors get back in numbers.

41Mins

Hardly anything to report in the last few moments. The Jose Mourinho formula for beating — or at least frustrating — United is working well for Tony Pulis’ men.

HALF-TIME

It has to get better in the second half, doesn’t it?

46Mins

West Brom has shown more attacking intent in the opening 90 seconds of the second half than they did in all of the first.

Down the other end, Ashley Young feels he’s being harshly treated by the referee.

48Mins

CHANCE! – Wayne Rooney has a shot from distance but Myhill deals with it comfortably.

53Mins

Craig Gardner has an effort from distance but it was high. You can’t help feel that United would be better off taking off Van Persie and moving Rooney up front.

56Mins

Fellani goes down in the West Brom area and though there are appeals for a penalty it never looked like being given.

63Mins

GOAL! – West Brom 1 – 0 Manchester United 

64Mins

It looked like Brunts goal on first viewing but it took a mighty deflection off Jonas Olsson in the wall.

Old Trafford stunned into silence.

72Mins

Penalty for United!

It looked like it was outside the area but Anthony Taylor points to the spot after Berahino’s handball.

74Mins

MISS! - Van Persie, who has been terrible, misses from the spot for United.

75Mins

CHANCE! Paddy McNair has a free header, six yards and and puts it wide.

84Mins

West Brom fans will be delighted to hear Falcao is on for Manchester United.

90Mins

CHANCE! – Out of nowhere, RVP strikes a volley from the edge of the box and Myhill makes another great save. Was that it for United?

90Mins

CHANCE! – Myhill with another great save as this time it’s Di Maria with the rasping effort from distance. The corner comes to nothing.

That’s the first time in well over a decade Manchester United have lost three in a row in the Premier League.

The race for fourth spot is back on.

Woeful from Manchester United today but credit to West Brom who stuck to their task and took advantage of their one real opportunity.

That’s it from me. Thanks as always for joining us.

About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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