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Dublin: 9 °C Monday 17 December, 2018


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DECEMBER ISN’T EVEN out it and looks like Manchester City have the title sewn up already. Yesterday’s 4-1 win over Tottenham has put 14 points between them and second-placed Man United after 18 matches played.

The Red Devils travel to The Hawthorns to play their game in-hand this afternoon, with second from bottom West Brom the hosts. Since Alan Pardew took over at the end of last month, the Baggies have recorded two draws and a defeat but they have yet to score under their new manager.

Kick-off is 45 minutes away, and we’ll have team news along shortly.

The home side bring in young Scottish winger Oliver Burke for Hal Robson-Kanu. That’s their only change, meaning James McClean, named RTE Sportsperson of the Year last night, retains his place.

West Brom: Foster, Nyom, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs, Burke, Livermore, Yacob, Krychowiak, McClean, Rondon.

Jose Mourinho has opted to recall Marcus Rashford, Ashley Young and Ander Herrera for Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay. Paul Pogba is still missing through suspension.

Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Young, Herrera, Matic, Lingard, Mata, Rashford, Lukaku.

A mad stat when you consider Ferguson retired in 2013 and the club has spent ridiculous sums of money since then.

How do you predict this one going?

Poll Results:

The teams are shaking hands in the middle of the pitch, meaning we’re just moments away from starting.

Flag 1Mins

Kick-off - West Brom get us going. Both teams are wearing their home strips today — the Baggies in navy and white stripes with white shorts and socks, United wearing red shirts with black shorts and socks.


Rashford, who has started out on the left, looks to cut inside and have a pop but it’s blocked. Mata then crosses to where West Brom captain Jonny Evans, a former United player, can clear.

The visitors are dominating possession during these first minutes, as you might expect.


Evans dispossesses Lingard with a strong challenge and West Brom begin an attack. Rondon holds up the ball well before setting McClean on his way with a clever backheel.

The Ireland winger advances forward and tries to pick out Burke but it’s behind him.


West Brom enjoying some of the ball now and McClean’s cross is headed behind by Valencia. The resulting set-piece comes to nothing, however.


West Brom’s 4-5-1 formation has done its job and kept United quiet for the opening 20 minutes. They haven’t been just playing it long to lone striker Rondon when in possession and a lot of the ball is going through Polish midfielder Krychowiak, who is on loan from Paris Saint-Germain.

Flag 27Mins

GOAL! West Brom 0-1 Manchester United (Romelu Lukaku) 

The away team go in front! Rashford’s cross is inch-perfect and Lukaku powers a header home against the club he spent a loan spell with in 2012-13. That’s his second goal in as many games and his 10th in the Premier League this season.


Half-chance for West Brom. Nyom gets a bit of luck when the ball comes back to him and his cross is directed towards Rondon, who can’t make sufficient contact.


GOAL! West Brom 0-2 Manchester United (Jesse Lingard) 

There’s a second. Matic and Mata are involved, with the latter teeing up Lingard. His speculative shot takes a wicked deflection off Hegazi on the way past Foster.


Livermore makes a yard for himself and shoots at goal from 25 yards out. It’s well struck but too close to De Gea, who has a simple save to make.


Second half – The game has restarted. West Brom string a couple of passes together, resulting in a shot for Gibbs. The ex-Arsenal full-back pulls the effort wide though.


United break in numbers with Lingard. He finds Rashford, who attempts to scoop the ball towards Lukaku. The flag goes up for offside.


Yellow card – And it’s going the way of Rashford. The United youngster takes an arm to the face from Hegazi and gives the Egyptian defender a piece of his mind before going into the referee’s book.


Chances at either end – Gareth Barry, on at half-time for Yacob, strikes directly at De Gea, then Rashford’s drilled shot into the ground goes marginally wide.


A brilliant counter-attack from United. Lingard advances through the middles and slides the ball through to Lukaku, who completes the one-two. Lingard gets the shot off but doesn’t cause much trouble for Foster.


Bad news for United. Captain Antonio Valencia, who has started every league game this season, has picked up an injury and looks set to be replaced by Marcos Rojo.

While he’s receiving treatment, West Brom bring on Jay Rodriguez for Burke.


Substitution – That change takes place with Rojo on for Valencia. The Argentine defender is making his 100 appearances for the club.


That’s risky from Young. Waiting for De Gea to collect the ball, the versatile Englishman sees McClean over his shoulder and steps out to block his run. McClean isn’t too pleased but no foul is given.


Another change – West Brom bring on Chris Brunt for Krychowiak.


GOAL! West Brom 1-2 Manchester United (Gareth Barry) 

Poor defending from United during a corner and substitute Barry scuffs the ball over the line. It’s the first Baggies goal of the Pardew era and, with 13 minutes plus time added on to play, they will go all out for an equaliser now.


Chance for West Brom! Rodriguez gets up to head a cross at goal but it’s the wrong side of De Gea’s post.


Sub – United bring on young midfielder ScottMcTominay for Lingard.


Very nearly a horror moment for Rojo. He attempts to clear Rondon’s ball into the box but gets it completely wrong and West Brom have a corner.

From that, De Gea misses the punch but eventually collects when the ball when it comes back to him off Matic. United’s goalkeeper then goes down injured and the home crowd audibly vent their frustrations.


More West Brom pressure and Smalling blocks a Barry shot. Down the other end, Lukaku’s attempt rolls just wide.

We’re midway through the four minutes of time added on now.

About the author:

Ben Blake


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