FOOTBALL NEWS

27/12/2012 13:26, Report by Ben Hibbs
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Preview: WBA

Did you know? Prior to the Premier League era, West Brom boasted a notably strong record against United; in 106 pre-1992 clashes, the Reds had won 40, drawn 27 and lost 39. Since Albion’s initial promotion to the top-flight in 2002, United have won 11, drawn two and lost only once – a 2-0 League Cup defeat in December 2003.

Opposition boss: Steve Clarke has made a huge impression since taking over at The Hawthorns in the summer following Roy Hodgson’s departure to become England boss. The fact that they are above Arsenal and Liverpool in the table and level on points with Everton and Tottenham, just two points behind Chelsea, speaks volumes. Reds defender Jonny Evans knows Chris Brunt and Gareth McAuley in the Baggies squad and he tells United Review: “Chris and Gareth both speak very highly of him. He does it in a quiet way. Even in his interviews he doesn’t give much away, but he’s clearly a very good coach and has his players really well organised.”

Star man: Steve Clarke’s biggest threat is arguably the goalscoring ability of his midfield players: James Morrison, Zoltan Gera and Chris Brunt in particular are all dangerous from any distance. Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie are talented goal-getters, but Romelu Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea and West Brom’s top league scorer with six goals, has pace and power in abundance and will keep United’s defenders busy.

Sub-plots: Former Reds shot-stopper Ben Foster is back from injury and for any goalkeeper returning to their old club there must be the lingering hope of producing one of those heroically defiant displays. United’s hotshots may have something to say about that, but Foster will need to be at his best if the Baggies are to claim a first win at OT since that epic 5-3 triumph in December 1978. 

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