Jonny Evans, West Brom's organised defence stifles Manchester United
West Brom put in a defensive masterclass against Manchester United at Old Trafford to secure a 0-0 draw. While Jose Mourinho criticised West Brom after the game, there will surely be a part of him that, begrudgingly, respected the discipline and organisation of the defensive effort put in by Tony Pulis' side. It was a fantastic start to a week which contains three fixtures, that could potentially take West Brom to their record Premier League tally.
It was West Brom's contingent of former Manchester United players that really stood out in what was a terrific team performance. Darren Fletcher organised his side from the middle of the park, breaking up play in the middle of the park while Ben Foster was a dominant presence in his own box. However, it was Jonny Evans who was the outstanding player on the pitch, he was simply faultless at the heart of West Brom's defence.
It was always going to be a defensively-orientated performance from West Brom but the main disappointment, as highlighted by Pulis after the game, was his side's inability to retain the possession of the ball which subsequently meant there was even more of a defensive effort required.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Apart from the poor retention of the ball, this was almost the ideal away performance for Pulis. There was a disciplined shape throughout, when one player went to cover another simply stepped in to replace them. It might not have excited the Old Trafford crowd but it was an effective set up that eventually led to Manchester United simply crossing the ball into the box, which West Brom's back four dealt with easily.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ben Foster, 7 -- Quiet first half but came into his own in the second, making two good saves from long-range shots from Marcus Rashford and commanding his own penalty area, making several good takes to relieve the pressure on his defence.
DF Craig Dawson, 7 -- Part of the rear-guard action, keeping Anthony Martial fairly quiet when he ran at him and losing out in just one aerial battle at the back post. Created West Brom's best chance going forward.
DF Gareth McAuley, 7 -- Didn't allow Rashford any space to run into, made a couple of good interventions at the near post and relished every occasion that Manchester United crossed the ball into the box.
DF Jonny Evans, 9 -- As close to a perfect defensive performance as you will see as the Northern Irishman clearly had a point to prove against his former club. His positioning was super throughout, winning tackles in crucial areas and organising his teammates well.
DF Allan Nyom, 7 -- Another solid defensive performance from the full-back up against the tricky Jesse Lingard, although he was one of the worst culprits for giving the ball away going forward.
MF Nacer Chadli, 6 -- Not a game that was designed for the Belgian with West Brom having very little of the ball, but he never shirked his defensive responsibilities. Dead ball delivery was poor.
MF Jake Livermore, 6 -- Broke up play well in the middle of the park without ever really getting a chance to demonstrate his ability to go box to box.
MF Darren Fletcher, 7 -- A real leader in the centre of the pitch, constantly talking to his teammates. Gave the ball away in poor areas on a couple of occasions, but also came closest to scoring, hitting the crossbar against his former club.
MF Chris Brunt, 6 -- Another player who wasn't really able to play his natural game but still made a good contribution to the defensive effort.
MF James McClean, 6 -- An energetic performance, McClean supported Nyom defensively and had a couple of decent runs going forward. Made a superb covering tackle when Henrikh Mkhitaryan was through on goal.
FW Hal Robson-Kanu, 6 -- Held the ball up well when given the chance but was ultimately on a hiding to nothing for much of the game.
MF James Morrison, 6 -- No opportunities going forward so a purely defensive job for the Scottish international.
MF Claudio Yacob, 7 -- Added another layer of protection to West Brom's defence, breaking up play with interceptions and tackles around the edge of the box.
FW Salomon Rondon, 6 -- Made a few decent runs in behind the United back line without ever taking advantage of the space he had.
Matthew Evans is ESPN FC's West Brom blogger. You can follow him on Twitter @MattEvansWBA.