Manchester United make the short trip to the Black Country in their latest premier league fixture. West Bromswich Albion provide the opposition on what is usually a tricky Monday night football evening. The nature of 'MNF' as is dubbed by Sky is that a league fixture played under floodlights takes on a Cup atmosphere. If you're away from home, it will not take long before rival fans are up for it, which invariably transmits onto your opponents.
Football games are usually dictated by the atmosphere under which they are played. It means therefore, playing West Brom away on a Monday night is not quite the same as playing them on Saturday at 3 o'clock. Smaller grounds such as the Hawthorns or Selhurst Park are difficult to navigate when the fans get going. Liverpool were (thankfully) undone at one such ground last term in the final lap of the title race. It's worth noting for purposes of this context that it was a MNF fixture and as such Selhurst Park didn't need much else to get going.
None of the above reasons are scientific of course, but games are officiated by humans called referees who have developed a nasty habbit of sending off our players or awarding penalties against us for the most innocuous of offences lately.
For United though, Monday is one that we cannot let slip. The nature of our fixture list over the next month or so means that Monday is an opportunity to make up for ground that will almost certainly be ceded over the next fortnight. This reality shall only be emphasised by a look at the league standings on Monday morning. Given that 3 points separate about 8 sides in from 4th spot that we currently occupy, we could easily find ourselves closer to the bottom half than the top 2 by kick off on Monday.
We've done a lot so far to rectify our home form. It's a shame that we're yet to win away from home this season. Monday is another opportunity to arrest that run. Letting that particular statistic rumble on will only serve to increase the pressure on us heading into future away fixtures.
Football is largely a game of confidence. United have turned a corner since that defeat at Leicester. Heading into a fortnight of tough fixtures can only be softenend by having the club at full confidence. We've done well to build it up to this level, but it only takes a second to destroy it. You can imagine confidence levels on Sunday next week if we lose at the Hawthorns. On the flip side, making it 3 wins from 3 on Monday gives Sunday a different complexion.
Ander Herrera should be back to offset Antonio Valencia's injury whilst the captain serves the second of a three game ban. Mata will therefore get another chance behind the duo of RVP and Radamel Falcao. The rest of the squad should virtually pick itself bar injuries sustained over the weekend's training.
Unlike the problem of fatigue that most clubs shall face this weekend, we can draw comfort from playing on Monday because it affords us an extra couple of days to get the players rested.
It's therefore hard to put an excuse as to why we shouldn't win on Monday, except of course the 'boogey' reasons I mentioned at the start of this preview.