West Brom had a very clear set up and they almost came away with the victory against United. Defending deep for the entire game, Alan Irvine’s men hoped to use their pace to cause problems in the questionable Manchester United defence. With the in-form Saido Berahino, the hope was they would nick a goal or two and defend their lead. Only a late goal from Daley Blind prevented a memorable West Brom victory. In the first half, in particular, the Baggies executed their game plan to perfection. From Boaz Myhill’s long clearance, Andre Wisdom ended up with the ball running at the exposed United defence. He picked out Stephane Sessegnon with a perfect ball, who finished exquisitely. Tactically, the early goal was perfect for the home side as they could rely on the counter-attack as United had push forwaard. In the second half, their attacks were less frequent as they were pressed back. There were always going to be chances for United considering the talent they had on show, but the in-form Berahino took his one chance to retain the lead. They may be disappointed after conceding a late goal, but Irvine got his tactics spot on to gain what could be a valuable point.
Louis van Gaal must be beginning to worry about the form of Robin van Persie. With Wayne Rooney suspended and Radamel Falcao on the bench after playing in Colombia during the international break,Van Persie led the line on his own. At 31, it is questionable whether Van Persie has the legs to play up front on his own any more. It was a comfortable outing for the West Brom centre-halves, Joleon Lescott and Craig Dawson. Van Persie could not get involved and he was wasteful the few times he was. His night was encapsulated in the 38th minute. After he robbed Lescott in the box, he refused to play the ball to Juan Mata, who was perfectly placed by the penalty spot. His eventual shot was blocked and the chance was gone. His usual decisiveness in the box was lacking, as he appears to be a man short of confidence. The wrong side of thirty, the cold truth could be that he is declining physically after so many injuries in his career. With Rooney and Falcao in the mix now, van Persie may see a lot of time on the bench unless he shows a drastic change in form.
The young Belgian’s chance finally came tonight at the Hawthorns. Van Gaal’s tactics has meant there has been no place in the team for Adnan Januzaj. United have generally played very narrow this season as they Van Gaal has tried to accommodate his embarrassment of riches in the striker department. Januzaj started his first Premier League game of the season against West Brom as United played 4-3-3, with the Belgian wide on the right. It was an extremely disappointing performance by the talented youngster. The away side had the bulk of possession and Januzaj was given a number of opportunities to run at the West Brom left-back, Sebastien Pocognoli. The 19-year-old was so slow in possession, allowing the defence to double-team him at every chance. The lack of pace in his play made it easy for his opponents, and when he managed to get a cross in, they were wasteful. With huge games coming up against Chelsea and Manchester City, the likelihood is that Januzaj will find himself on the bench again. It was an opportunity lost for the youngster and in a season without the extra demands of European football, they could be few and far between.
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