West Brom largely impressed last season and they are now looking to continue the rich vein of form, although the clash with champions Manchester United in the opening round is hardly the perfect start. Red Devils are high on confidence after beating City in Community Shield and they are hoping to claim maximum points at Hawthorns.
West Brom outplayed United last term
West Brom have been showing a lot of potential from the very start of last season and even when their results started taking the wrong turn, it was evident that the Baggies were playing some great football. The Midlands side completely outclassed Manchester United last season at Hawthorns, but very were unlucky to lose that game as some refereeing decisions helped United get all three points. The Baggies have shown a lot of improvement under Roy Hodgson, who is famous for getting the best out of small sides and his side are looking to continue with impressive performances. New signings Zoltan Gera and Shane Long are expected to offer a new quality in attack to the side that scored in 13 successive games at the end of last season, so United’s defence are likely to face a tough task at Hawthorns. I have no doubts that West Brom will adopt a positive approach against United, which should guarantee us a great game of football.
Peter Odemwingie and Youssouf Mulumbu should be fit to play, while Jerome Thomas and Paul Scharner should also be in contention after recovering from injuries. Steven Reid is out through injury, while Zoltan Gera is short of match fitness.
United already on fire
Many people believed that United would face big problems following the retirement of Edwin van der Sar and Paul Scholes, but having made some shrewd signings this summer, Sir Alex Ferguson again has the team capable of defending the Premiership title. While Ashley Young and David De Gea have slotted right into the starting line-up, Phil Jones has also shown a massive potential and he is likely to get a lot of playing time this season. For me, the biggest gain of pre-season is Tom Cleverley, the boy who is on the road to become a stalwart in United midfield following some amazing displays in pre-season, including the game against Manchester City in the Community Shield. That match showed that United are still a force to be reckoned with, regardless of the team Sir Alex sends out on the pitch, and that is definitely their biggest strength. Having scored three goals against City, the Red Devils should have no problems bagging a couple at Hawthorns.
Javier Hernandez and Michael Carrick are likely to miss out through injury, while Tom Cleverley is expected to start in midfield.
With both West Brom and Manchester United high on confidence at the moment, we should see a great game at Hawthorns, especially as both sides are likely to adopt attacking approach. Last time these two sides met, we saw three goals but should have seen at least five or six, so both teams to score looks like a banker here.
Our prediction: Both teams to score
Odds: 1.85 (17/20)
Bookmaker: Victor Chandler