Manchester United’s recent dominance over West Bromwich Albion may make a victory for Louis van Gaal’s side on Saturday evening seem like a given, but that wasn’t always the case.
In the first 17 meetings between the two sides prior to World War One, West Brom won eight times against Man United who were, of course, operating under the guise of Newton Heath until 1902. Four of those fixtures ended as a draw and United won the other five times.
More recently, Romelu Lukaku’s hat-trick in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game as United manager in 2013 marked the end of probably the greatest managerial tenure in English football and also resulted in the Premier League’s only ever 5-5 draw to date.
Aside from that clash, there weren’t too many memorable meetings between the two sides during Sir Alex’s 26 years in charge of United, although that’s not to say there weren’t some important results.
The Baggies’ battling 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on 7 May 2005 gave them a lifeline in their battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League. It was one of 16 draws in the 2004/5 season which eventually led to West Brom beating the drop by a single point, with the United result proving key to sparking the euphoric pitch invasion at the Hawthorns after ‘The Great Escape’ had been completed on the final day of the season.
A much more comfortable result for United came in the form of a 3-0 win over West Brom in the penultimate game of the 1981/82 season. The victory, courtesy of goals from Steve Coppell, Garry Bertles and Bryan Robson – who, incidentally, was West Brom manager during the aforementioned 1-1 draw – cemented United’s third place finish and UEFA Cup football following a disappointing eighth place finish the season before.
West Brom have won just four times against United since that game on 12 May 1982 with the 2-1 win last season being Albion’s first against United in 14 meetings.
In their last match, Marouane Fellaini scored in a 2-2 draw at the Hawthorns. Fellaini’s 48th minute equaliser cancelled out Stephane Sessegnon’s early effort for West Brom, with Saido Berahino putting them back in front before Daley Blind equalised late on, earning United a vital point in their push for Champions League football.
The smash-and-grab draw was in stark contrast to United’s recent run of performances, the dismal 3-0 defeat to Everton aside, and United will be hoping to return to winning ways against the Baggies on Saturday.