Writer: S Wilton
Date:Friday December 31 2010
1 January 2011
Man United roll into town hoping to improve upon their away record that has seen them win just once all season. On the other hand, however, they haven't lost either. The Baggies have lost their last three games despite dominating each one so they will be hoping to start off the year with a victory. They will be glad to allow United to dominate as long as they put another three points on the board.
Di Matteo will have to contend without two of the stalwarts of the defence this season, Gabriel Tamas and Gonzalo Jara. With Olsson already being sidelined and Paul Schaarner suffering with illness the Baggies could have to play with only one regular defender in the backline. It's a nightmare scenario to be facing the league leaders but adversity can bring strength and hopefully it will be the case at the Hawthorns tomorrow.
'Any time you play Manchester United is difficult because they have such great players. Saturday will be no different.
In the first game of the season, we played at the champions Chelsea.
Now, in our first game of the second half of the season, we're playing the leaders.
We must remember there are still 18 games after this but we want to give United a hard time on Saturday.
We play with no fear against everybody. That's our strength.
The fact United are unbeaten says it all. They are always very strong and confident. It's difficult for anyone who plays against them but it's been a very unpredictable season so far. Anybody can beat anybody - that's been the norm all season.
We have a duty to our supporters to go out and be confident of winning.
We will be under pressure and will need to defend well but we're confident we can come out with something positive from the game.'
As said earlier Tamas and Jara are suspended and Olsson is again unavailable. It remains to be seen whether Scharner can recover from illness so the recalled Zuiverloon and Steven Reid will be on standby to come into the team. Chris Brunt will be welcomed back to the fold after his suspension, his ability on the ball was sadly missed against Blackburn and Tchoyi is likely to make way for him.
The break will have done Chris Brunt the power of good and he should come back firing on all cylinders, ready to give the League leaders a run for their money.
Paul Scholes is still out injured but Nani could make his return to the team.
Rooney hasn't scored an open play goal for some time and the New Year may just signal a change of fortune for the United player.
The Baggies have faced United 58 times at the Hawthorns and won 28 of those games losing 17 times.
Chris Foy is the man in charge. Baggies fans will remember him for his performance officiating the game against Stoke earlier this season. He awarded two very debatable penalties to Stoke lets hope he can even it up this time.
Next up is away to Fulham on Tuesday evening in another live Sky game.
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Date:Friday December 31 2010
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