Robin van Persie has returned to fitness ahead of the visit of West Brom to Old Trafford on Saturday. The Dutch striker was a surprise absentee from Manchester United’s heavy 4-1 defeat to neighbors Manchester City last Sunday and also sat out a 1-0 Capital One Cup win over Liverpool in midweek, but Moyes confirmed he was now back in full training, although wouldn’t reveal whether he would start this weekend.
"Robin will be back involved somewhere," Moyes said in his pre-match press conference. "Whether we use him or whether we don't, he has trained today and is back fit. We will see exactly where he is but he has trained.”
Victory over Liverpool came at important time for Moyes after the derby defeat, which left United with just a solitary point from three Premier League matches against their biggest rivals -- City, Liverpool and Chelsea. But Moyes has explained that he is very much still adapting to his new role after taking on the huge task of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson.
“I have been learning every week since the day I walked in as Manchester United manager," he said. "I learned something the first day and I have continued to learn since.
"I don’t think that is going to change for a long time. I even think the manager who has just left was continually learning in the job. I am relatively new to it so I am still learning everything about it.”
After taking the chance on Wednesday to look at several members of his squad who have been overlooked in the opening weeks of the season, there will be a number of changes against West Brom. The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini will be looking to return to the side, alongside Van Persie. Tom Cleverley is also expected to back involved after a knee injury.
The last time United met West Brom, of course, was a 10-goal thriller as the teams drew 5-5 to give Sir Alex Ferguson a perhaps unwantedly thrilling sendoff. That match featured a hat-trick for Romelu Lukaku, who has since returned to Chelsea before going on-loan to Everton. And one of Steve Clarke’s major challenges this season has been to try and replace the young Belgian’s goals.
Having scored just one goal in their first four Premier League matches the signs were not good. But West Brom got their first win and first goal spurt of the news season last week with a 3-0 win over Sunderland. And Clarke, who made a host of changes as his side exited the League Cup on penalties to Arsenal, holds no fears about a trip to the Premier League champions.
“I've never been afraid of going to Old Trafford,” he stated, according to West Brom’s website. “You have to relish it -- it's fantastic. You go there, you go on the pitch, look at the crowd, it makes you feel good. It should make you ready to play the best you can. I don't hold with the fear factor or the thought that you should go to these places and be intimidated.”
Manchester United (probable)
G: De Gea
D: Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra
M: Carrick, Fellaini
Valencia, Rooney, Kagawa
F: Van Persie
West Brom (probable)
D: Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell
M: Mulumbu, Yacob
Amalfitano, Sessegnon, Sinclair
Prediction: To the frustration of many, Moyes has stuck to a consistent lineup for his early games in charge. Some of those players on the fringes staked their claim to varying degrees against Liverpool. While Javier Hernandez again displayed his qualities in the penalty area, it is the cases of Nani and Shinji Kagawa that are perhaps most interesting. While not quite producing an end product, each showed flashes of creativity that comfortably outstrip what has been produced by Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young in recent weeks. Whether Moyes’s pragmatism dictates Valencia and Young returning to the side against West Brom could be telling in terms of how comfortable the afternoon is for United, if not the result.
West Brom have already benefited going forward from Stephane Sessegnon’s introduction to the side as well as that of loan signing Morgan Amalfitano. But United should get the home win, regardless of Moyes’s selection.
Manchester United 2-0 West Brom
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick off at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Premier League Extra Time, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.