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Starting XI: Manchester United vs. West Bromwich Albion

Reds head to Big Sam’s for a Valentine’s Day clash

Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Everything that you need to know ahead of Sunday’s match:

(1) Manchester United head south to the West Midlands to face Sam Allardyce’s West Bromwich Albion following a turgid 1-0 extra-time victory over West Ham United in the FA Cup earlier this week.

(2) United would hold 62% possession and take 17 shots, but David Moyes’ side remained resolute for nearly 97 minutes. However, Scott Mctominay delivered the goods in the first half of extra time to finally break the deadlock. It would mark his seventh goal in all competitions for the Reds.

Although the goal was crucial to United moving on to the next round of the FA Cup, it was not without some controversy.

(3) With the win over the Hammers in the bag, United will face Leicester City in the quarterfinals. But more on that in an upcoming Starting XI piece.

(4) To put it kindly, the Baggies are not a good football team. Famous for swooping in to shore up a team and save it from relegation, Big Sam has not enjoyed such success as his side sit 19th in the league on 12 points with a -36 goal differential. However, this same team did hold United to a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford with Bruno Fernandes saving the day from —where else? — the penalty spot.

(5) West Brom’s most recent match was at Tottenham Hotspur where Spurs took a 2-0 victory off the feet of Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min. Kane’s goal was a coolly-taken finish following a laser pass from Pierre-Emile Højberg that cut through virtually every level of West Brom’s defense. Son would score minutes later as he found himself uncovered by a completely disoriented backline, and the winger blasted his attempt into the back of the net.

(6) Big Sam spent the lead up to the match preaching resilience from his side as they prepare to host the second-ranked team in the Premier League table.

(7) Solskjaer deflected during his own pre-match presser when asked about the Reds’ recent form in the Premier League as Manchester City widens its gap at the top of the table.

“Of course it’s an important game for us, this weekend. It’s an important spell. Every game, you tick one off and are there less possibilities to make up the points to the teams in front of you. That’s what we want to do; that’s what we’re here to do and Sunday’s a big one for us in that respect, to get back to winning ways. The two points dropped against Everton were disappointing when it’s the last kick off the ball. But we bounced back well in the Cup against West Ham; we’re through and we’re into the quarters. That was a good step in the right direction and another clean sheet.”

(8) Amad Diallo made his first appearance in the 18 against West Ham but did not make it onto the pitch. However, unlike David Moyes’ West Ham who are playing well this season, the Baggies seem like a ripe opportunity for the new lad to make his debut.

(9) Speaking of the U23s, Hannibal Mejbri and Shola Shoretire — who scored in the U23’s 3-0 victory over Arsenal on Friday — have joined Diallo in the first team training bubble, according to Solskjaer. Citing the upcoming return to the Europa League and continuation in the FA Cup, the boss is looking to have some additional depth as he tries to keep his guys fresh for the second half of the season.

(10) Fred has 99 appearances and a 100th on the horizon. Solskjaer has not hesitated to lean on the McFred midfield this season, and, with Pogba out for several weeks, it’s likely the mascot will reach the century mark this weekend.

(11) Last, but most assuredly not least, Roy Keane has an Instagram now. Here’s his first post for good vibes:

Cross your fingers and toes that United take care of business Sunday, because it certainly feels like a “drop some points” kind of weekend...