The race to finish in the top four are alive again after Manchester United closed the gap to fourth by a point.
The results have swung into United’s hands as Van Gaal hopes to get the club in the top four through the league rather than relying on winning the Europa League. There is a chance to finish within the top four with 10 games to go. Van Gaal has had to rely on his squad to get him through a period where senior players have been ruled out through injury. It has been a spell of good form with performances improving by debuting academy players into the first team.
Now is the time to deliver at United for Van Gaal as he will need to get players back to be involved in the tight race for fourth. It was only a few weeks ago he admitted defeat to his chances of getting top four. He will be relieved with Smalling available after being out with a shoulder injury. Valencia and Fellaini may be involved as they have returned to training. The back to back wins against Arsenal and Watford will keep the spirits high and making sure players are getting their chances on the field. United take on West Brom and it has been a stadium where surprises have occurred especially the thriller in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game in charge.
Tony Pulis will not be available to use former United defender Jonny Evans, who is still recovering with a hamstring injury. Chris Brunt is ruled out and will miss the next six months with a ruptured cruciate ligament. Also out are McManaman and Morrison.
United will need to be aware of the attacking duo Rondon and Berahino who have been a handful to defences. In their last three games there has been plenty of goals so this game could feature plenty of goals. Obviously, Van Gaal could change his team around by including Varela, Rashford and Fosu-Mensah. If Smalling is returning, this will give the defence a lift as he has been impressive this season. Also, Darmian returned to action and the right-back position has been a void to fill but Varela has done a great job to replace him. Rashford has been the bright spark which United needed to gain momentum and this gives other players confidence when the team is winning. It may have taken a Juan Mata freekick to clinch all three points but in football you need luck to win games.
Possible starting XI:
West Brom; Foster, Olsson, McAuley, Dawson, Chester, Sessegnon, Yacob, Fletcher, Gardner, Rondon, Berahino.
Man Utd; De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Fosu-Mensah, Carrick, Schneiderlin, Mata, Memphis, Martial, Rashford.