The Premier League returned to our screens yesterday after two weeks off due to the international break, and the opening day of action concluded with a tense affair between Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford.
In what was a difficult bout for the hosts in more ways than one, the Red Devils were able to come away with a narrow 1-0 win to secure their first victory at Old Trafford in the league this season.
Johnstone’s strong return
From saving Bruno Fernandes’ initial penalty to making a handful of vital stops throughout the game, this was one hell of a night to remember for Sam Johnstone. The former United man was with the club for nine years before leaving to head to The Hawthorns in 2018, and he made sure to let his former employers know what they were missing. It ultimately didn’t change the outcome, but you can see why Baggies fans continue to hold him in such high regard.
Manchester United needed to make some kind of emphatic statement last night, battling relegation contenders at home. Unfortunately, they didn’t do that, and they only got the win because of a retaken penalty after Fernandes missed the first one. They’ve still got a game in hand that could vault them back into the discussion towards the top of the table, but there are some big questions that need to be asked in the next few days ahead of what is bound to be a gruelling winter schedule.
Worries for both?
At this moment in time, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are priced at 9/5 with 888sport to finish in the top four and qualify for the UEFA Champions League. On the flip side, West Brom are 33/100 to get relegated straight back down to the Championship at the first attempt. Based on what we saw last night it’s easy to picture a scenario in which neither team is able to accomplish what they really want between now and the end of the campaign, and while that might sound harsh, they both need a reality check prior to the January transfer window.
Manchester United: de Gea (7), Telles (7), Maguire (8), Lindelof (7), Wan-Bissaka (7.5), Fred (7), Matic (7.5), Rashford (7), Fernandes (8.5), Mata (6.5), Martial (7.5), McTominay (6), Cavani (6.5), van de Beek (6.5)
West Brom: Johnstone (7.5), Furlong (6), Ajayi (7), Ivanovic (6), Bartley (6.5), Townsend (7), Pereira (7), Sawyers (6.5), Gallagher (6), Diangana (6.5), Grant (6), Robson-Kanu (6), Robinson (6.5), Krovinovic (6)
Goals: Fernandes pen
Referee: David Coote
Yellow Cards: Cavani, Gallagher
Red Cards: N/A