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…
Kevin Phillips believes Slaven Bilic will stick with a back-five when West Brom play against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday night.
Albion started with a back-four against Southampton, Burnley, Brighton and Fulham but Bilic switch back to a back-five for the clash against Tottenham in the final match before the international break.
Although the Baggies lost 1-0, their performance was far better than it was in any of those four matches with back-four and Phillips believes we’ll see the same again against the Red Devils this weekend.
“I think he’ll stick with a back-five, especially away from home,” Phillips told West Brom News.
“If it was at home, Bilic might change it tactically a little bit to be more aggressive and more on the front foot.
“Even with a back-five. Is it really a back-five? Of course, it is when you’re defending but when you’re attacking, I’m sure Slaven wants those wing-backs forward to get in crosses with the other getting in at the back-stick. And then one of those midfield players will drop back to make a back-four for a bit of cover.
“I wouldn’t make dramatic changes because you’re away from home and I’m sure Slaven would take a point now and get out of there.
“No matter how many players United are missing, they’re still going to have most of the possession in West Brom’s half.
“They’re going to have to defend well so it wouldn’t surprise me if they stick with a back-five.”
Although Phillips believes the formation will stay the same, there’s a good chance that the personnel won’t.
Matheus Pereira and Branislav Ivanovic tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the defeat to Spurs and both are likely to return to the fold this weekend.
Bilic has also confirmed there are more cases of COVID-19 among his players and while he’s not yet disclosed who those players are, it’s unlikely he would have mentioned it unless it affected his plans.
West Brom are yet to win a game in the Premier League this season and need to get a result sooner rather than later.
Albion have lost just one of their last four trips to Old Trafford.
Maybe – just maybe – this is the game that gets the Baggies’ season going.
In other West Brom news, Stan Collymore has predicted the result of Albion’s clash versus Manchester United.