Manchester United have encountered problems in the past few seasons whenever they have been tasked with breaking down opposing team’s deep-lying defences – particularly at Old Trafford.
United are clearly quite accomplished when they are free to operate on the counter-attack, but whenever they face opponents who are willing to leave with a point by sitting deeper and showing United’s attack plenty of respect, they struggle.
West Bromwich Albion are the visiting team this weekend, with Slaven Bilic’s outfit placed 18th in the Premier League table having won none of their eight matches so far.
The Baggies appear vulnerable but in a sense they present a similar type of challenge to the one that United have typically failed to overcome in recent years.
However, there is some reason to suggest that Saturday’s clash will be different for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
Although West Brom are more likely to adopt a defensive game plan in Manchester, they have conceded the joint-most goals in the league this season with 17, they have faced the third-most shots of any team, and their Expected Goals Against is the worst in the division.
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United get their Premier League campaign back underway on Saturday when they welcome strugglers West Brom to Old Trafford.
The under-pressure Reds came from behind to beat Everton last time out thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ double and Edinson Cavani’s first goal for United.
The players are returning from the two-week international break, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping to have as few injury and fitness concerns as possible among the stars coming back from international duty.
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The right side of their defence seems to be particularly problematic, which bodes well for Marcus Rashford who tends to be deployed on the left of United’s attack.
Pictured below are the shots that West Brom have allowed their opponents to take in each league match this season, with a very apparent theme emerging.
In most cases, the majority of the shots that Bilic’s side afford originate from the area that Rashford typically occupies once cutting inside from the left flank using his favoured right foot.
The English forward has proved to be an expert at driving inside before finding the far corner of the net and based on the shot location evidence attached to West Brom so far, it is reasonable to suggest he will get many opportunities to do so on the weekend.
Anthony Martial – who has endured a frustrating start to the new campaign – is equally inclined to drift towards the left of the penalty box before firing home with his preferred right foot, which is an exciting prospect as United look to secure their first domestic win of the season on home turf.
Ultimately, the goals could flow on Saturday night with Rashford and Martial boosting their numbers ahead of the hectic Christmas period of the season.