Hmm, what to watch on Saturday evening? Strictly Come Dancing? A celebrity special of The Chase? Or two bald men fighting over a comb at Old Trafford?
This match sees the team with the second-worst home record in 2020/21 hosting the side with the second-worst away record. They’ve each taken just one point from four matches either at home or on the road as appropriate.
If you were Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, you’d think you’d welcome a home game against a side freshly promoted from the Championship and still awaiting their first win of the season against any club of above League Two standard.
Yet a defeat to such a team would surely spell the end of his Manchester United reign. Most clubs are missing having their supporters in the stands, but Solskjaer is probably glad the home faithful haven’t been at Old Trafford to see their turgid league performances and voice their disapproval of them this season.
The visit of West Bromwich Albion brings together the two managers at the front of the betting in the ‘sack race’ market.
If it were a fight to the death between the two, my money would be on Slaven Bilic, but as it’ll be settled on the pitch then you have to back United.
If you want to be charitable about their appalling home record in the league this season, three of the four matches have been against other clubs from the traditional big six. And it’s not as if the Baggies have won three and drawn one of their last five visits to the red side of Manchester, or that United have dropped seven points from their six home matches against newly-promoted teams in the last two seasons, is it?
Oh. That has all happened. Gulp.
But it doesn’t matter how much history and United’s poor home form points towards this being another dark night of the soul for Solskjaer. West Brom haven’t had a clear-cut chance in any of their games away from The Hawthorns this season and they’ve given up eight to their opponents, so even a team as erratic as the Red Devils should be able to walk away from this one with three points.
Remember when these sides drew 5-5 in the final match of Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure with United? With hindsight, it feels like Fergie took the last vestiges of fun from the club when he left.
There have only been seven goals in the five Manchester meetings since then, and three of them occurred back in 2013 in the first (but certainly not last) home defeat of David Moyes’ brief reign. In the four Old Trafford clashes since then, at least one of the teams has ended with nil and it’s been United more often than it has been the Baggies.
The visitors will hope to keep things tight in this one too, and that has been their style on the road since Bilic took the reins. Only three teams in the Championship had fewer away games which paid out on over 2.5 goals last season, and it has only occurred in one of their four matches in 2020/21.
With United struggling for goals – they’ve netted just one non-penalty goal in their opening four home league games this season – this should be a low scoring affair.
Trying to pick a goal scorer bet after an international break is a nightmare. You never know who is likely to play. What shape did so and so arrive back at training in? And is you know who actually injured, or was it just a ruse to avoid some pointless international matches? Etc.
And irrespective of that, it’s not like these teams are in red hot goal scoring form either. Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min only have three fewer goals than United and West Brom combined in the league this season. It’s no wonder either – exclude penalties (as they’ve largely kept Solskjaer’s United afloat) – and these two clubs are in the Premier League’s bottom three for average chance quality this season. Bald men, meet comb.
With leader of the opposition Marcus Rashford possibly going to miss this one, Bruno Fernandes is our man. Especially as it will probably take a penalty for United to have a half-decent chance.
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while in-copy odds are correct at time of publication but subject to change
Man Utd v West Brom tips
- A Paddy Power Same Game Multi of the above 4 legs pays at around 14/1
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