We’re delighted to welcome former West Brom striker Kevin Phillips as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at The Hawthorns…
Branislav Ivanovic will return to the West Brom starting line-up for the clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday, according to Kevin Phillips.
Ivanovic, 36, and Matheus Pereira missed the Tottenham game before the international break due to testing positive for COVID-19.
Both players are now available again after serving their periods in self-isolation but Phillips is less sure of Pereira starting at Old Trafford than Ivanovic.
“Ivanovic will come straight back in but who for is anyone’s guess,” Phillips told West Brom News. “At the end of the day, only the manager will make that decision.
“You need experience on the pitch when you go to Old Trafford and of course, there’s no one more experienced in the Premier League than Ivanovic so I expect him to come in.
“With Pereira, you would think he’d start. He hasn’t really lit it up as of late so he might be started on the bench. Who knows?
“But if it was me, you’re going to soak up a lot of pressure and you’re going to be sitting in so if Ivanovic comes in and does that well, you want fast attacking players on the counter-attack and Pereira fits that mould.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he did come back into the squad so it will be interesting to see what changes he does make.”
West Brom performed well in attack against Spurs with Karlan Grant and Callum Robinson up front in a 3-5-2 formation so you can see why Phillips is unsure about whether Pereira should start at Man United.
The Brazilian was unimpressive against Fulham in his last appearance and the display versus Spurs without him suggests it might be best to name him on the bench and potentially use him as an impact substitute.
But bringing Ivanovic back in is surely a no-brainer.
As Phillips says, you need experienced players to stand up to the star players that Man United have and it’s hard to come by someone more experienced than the former Chelsea defender.
In other West Brom news, Bilic and Dean Smith are at odds over a major debate going on among Premier League managers.