Premier League leaders Manchester United welcome West Bromwich Albion to Old Trafford for the final game of this calendar year. Both clubs enter the weekend fixture with a victory on Boxing Day; the Red Devils won 4-3 against Newcastle United while the Baggies beat QPR at Loftus Road.
Where to Watch
Kick-off is set for 3 pm GMT. Catch the highlights on Match of the Day, on BBC One and BBC One HD at 10:30pm GMT.
United lead the league with 46 points at the half-way point; the late goal from Mexican youngster Javier Hernandez giving Sir Alex Ferguson's side yet another late and dramatic win. The significance of the win was boosted by defending champions Manchester City losing their midweek game (1-0 at Sunderland). And the gap between the two Manchester clubs at the top of the table is now seven points.
Ferguson will want no let up in the pressure on Roberto Mancini and his men and will expect three points against the Baggies, despite an enormously impressive season from the Steve Clarke-led team. And the Scot will be backed by a strong home record - the Old Trafford club have won eight of nine games at home.
Meanwhile, West Brom's win over the Rangers took them up to sixth in the league and despite predictions of the Hawthorns club falling away as the season progresses they continue to flirt with the prospect of Champions League football next season. Clarke, a former Chelsea coach, has lead the Baggies to some impressive results this season, the most impressive of which was probably the 2-1 home defeat of Chelsea back in November. West Brom are on a three-match unbeaten run coming into this game, with wins over Norwich and QPR.
Clarke will have his eye on European football for next season but will be wary of the threat posed by David Moyes and Everton, as well as the likes of Tottenham and Arsenal; the four teams are separated by only three points.
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): W D W W L
- Last Result: Manchester United 4 - 3 Newcastle United
West Bromwich Albion
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): W W D L L
- Last result: Queens Park Rangers 1 - 2 West Bromwich Albion
England striker Wayne Rooney has been ruled out for two to three weeks, which increases pressure on Dutch striker Robin van Persie to lead the line. However, the former Arsenal skipper will be ably backed by Hernandez, with the youngster continuing to shine at every opportunity.
Ferguson will likely also welcome Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck to the squad but there are doubts over the English duo's match fitness. Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa has returned to first team training but the summer signing is still a little way off from an appearance, even as a substitute. Serbian centre back Nemanja Vidic may start this match but that would depend on how well the United captain has recovered from a sore knee sustained in the draw against Swansea last week.
Brazilian international Rafael da Silva, compatriot Anderson and Portuguese winger Nani will also miss this match.
Probable Line-Up: De Gea; Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Giggs; Hernandez, van Persie
Clarke has a fair few injury worries to face, leading to the recall of 19 year old midfielder George Thorne from his loan with Championship side Peterborough. The youngster is expected to feature in the first team in the absence of Claudio Yacob, who has a hamstring problem. Congolese international Youssouf Mulumbu faces a late fitness test, as does defender Jonas Olsson.
Republic of Ireland international Steven Reid is in line to return for this game but Clarke will be wary of rushing him back before he is completely ready. Goran Popov, meanwhile, is definitely ruled out.
Probable Line-Up: Foster; Jones, Olsson, McAuley, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Morrison; Odemwingie, Gera, Brunt; Lukaku