Facts and figures ahead of Monday's clash with the Red Devils (ko 8pm)
THE international break is over and the Barclays Premier League has returned this weekend.
Albion host Manchester United tomorrow at The Hawthorns and, once again, football stats website WhoScored.com are here to preview the clash.
Returning after a hiatus from domestic football is always an uncertain time. Can clubs change their fortunes or indeed continue the run they were on before the break? That is a question Alan Irvine will be looking to answer after a positive run of results was disrupted by international duty.
Narrow defeats to Everton and Liverpool bookended a period filled with three back-to-back wins over Tottenham, Hull and Burnley.
Despite the result at Anfield, a 2-1 reverse, there is certainly still reason to believe Albion can bounce back this week.
Manchester United are the visitors and they come into the encounter fourth in the league table but without a win away from home this season.
Their 5-3 defeat at Leicester followed meek draws at Burnley and Sunderland, and Albion, having dispatched the Clarets 4-0 in their last home game, should be confident coming into this match.
Scorer of a brace that day and the Premier League's second-leading goalscorer with five goals (behind only Diego Costa, who is on nine), Saido Berahino will be hoping he can add to his tally against United.
Berahino netted for England’s Under-21s last week and, having scored the winner at Old Trafford in Albion's victory there a year ago, there is every chance of further goals on Monday.
United's defensive problems have been widely publicised this season; injuries have not helped the situation, and they come to the midlands having let in ten goals already, giving them one of the worst defensive records in the top flight.
Possessing statistically calculated strengths of both 'finishing' and 'headed attempts', Berahino is developing into a top-class striker and goalscorer, who is primarily on hand to complete attacking moves. But he has also shown that he links play brilliantly, and Albion's midfield are those who benefit from Berahino's mature play.
He works tirelessly for the team, defending from the front, aiming to win the ball high up the pitch and punish opponents for any mistakes. As his heat map shows, his work goes right across the pitch. Fewer other forwards cover quite as much ground as Berahino.
With United's defensive problems, they may struggle to pick up the clever runs of the ever-improving youngster.
Buoyed by his recent goalscoring efforts and his winner at United last season, Berahino could be key to a positive result against the Red Devils, which does not look as unlikely as it might have done in previous seasons.
*WhoScored.com is a unique website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Provided with unique stats, they compile and create comprehensive analysis on the major European divisions, including live match stats and player ratings. Follow @WhoScored and their editor-in-chief @alitweedale on Twitter.
George Best made his Manchester United debut on September 14, 1963 against Albion. The Baggies then visited Old Trafford on November 30, 2005, which was the first game played after Best’s death.
On Sunday, May 19, 2013, Albion and United drew 5-5 - the fixture holds the record for the highest-scoring Premier League draw was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last match in charge.
The last goalless draw between the two sides was back in the 1982/83 season.
Albion’s first-ever Premier League encounter was against United at Old Trafford in 2002. The Baggies lost 1-0 courtesy of a goal from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
On April 29, 1968, Albion beat United 6-3 at The Hawthorns, just two days after qualifying for the FA Cup final. Jeff Astle scored a hat-trick and then scored another two days later against West Ham. In May of that year, Albion beat Everton 1-0 in the cup final at Wembley, 11 days before United won the European Cup there by beating Benfica 4-1.
We said, they said
We Said – Alan Irvine: “Manchester United will be a tough game, but it will be good to be back at home after the win against Burnley so hopefully we can follow that up.”
They Said – Louis Van Gaal: “Albion are very difficult to beat, especially at their home...but we have to start with a victory after the international break."
Most recent encounters at The Hawthorns v United
Albion 0-3 Manchester United (March 8, 2014)
Albion 5-5 Manchester United (May 19, 2013)
Albion 1-2 Manchester United (August 14, 2011)
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