cpfc-primary-badge-642-px61-813693_478x359Manchester United MANCHESTER UNITED

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CRYSTAL PALACE

Old Trafford, Manchester

September 14, 2013; 17:15 IST

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Man United entertain Ian Holloway’s Palace side in a bid to re-start their league campaign after failing to win or even score in two of their three league encounters. Palace on the other hand will be heavy underdogs and would look to thrive on the uncertainly among the United ranks. Will David Moyes finally unleash his game-changers and attacking flair or will United come under further scrutiny; the question on most minds will be: can the empire strike back?

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks for the new United manager with the transfer window debacle as well as the defeat at Anfield; it’s fair to say that the knives have already sharpened. The International break must have come as a welcome relief and David Moyes must be hoping for a healthy return of all his international players. Next week United make the short trip to Eastlands for the much anticipated Manchester Derby, ergo a win at Old Trafford this weekend is a necessity even this early in the campaign.

For Crystal Palace, anything from a trip to Old Trafford is a nice bonus. Ian Holloway unlike his previous stint in the top flight with Blackpool, has engraved the ethos of caution and mixed aggression in his current side. The Eagles are coming to Manchester on the back of a morale raising win against Sunderland and have the same number of point as their more illustrious opponents. But, in reality, Palace’s ambitions this season will be to beat the drop and the management have bought almost a new eleven to add much needed strength in depth.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Manchester United

Man United, after much deliberation and thought, finally splashed the cash and brought in Marouane Fellaini from Everton. The United midfield was in desperate need of fresh legs and ideas and the Belgian could be that catalyst. Wayne Rooney in all probability will sit this one out, owing to the head injury that he sustained in a training ground mishap. Phil Jones will be accessed to see how he is coping with the knock he had received at Anfield.  Rafael Da Silva is back in training and will be a welcome addition if the Brazilian can pass the fitness test, but perhaps this game comes too early. RVP, Welbeck and Shinji Kagawa all scored in their International games and should play a part in the contest.

With big games coming thick and fast, Moyes will need to use his entire squad and thus every player will get a chance to stake a claim in the coming weeks. Nani, having signed a new 5 year contract, will be looking to impress his new boss and should start at the right wing. Either of Welbeck or Young could play on the left wing, enabling Shinji to play in his favored position behind the Center Forward. Moyes could also look to give young Wilfried Zaha a chance as the youngster has impressed during the preseason games. Rio and Vidic could continue in defense although the manger may look to save them for the midweek UCL game and the upcoming derby. If Moyes is in the mood for bit of rotation then expect Rio to be rested in favor of Evans.

United will line up in a 4-2-3-1 with Carrick and new signing Fellaini as the double pivot looking to shield the defense. Fellaini though will also look to go forward and join in the attacks playing more as a box-box midfielder than a deep lying playmaker. Expect the Red Devils to hog the ball, dominate possession and the likes of Nani and Kagawa feeding balls through to Van Persie.  United always tend to make full use of the wide Old Trafford pitch and stretch their opponents, Crystal Palace could be in in for a drubbing if Moyes’ men find their scoring boots.

Predicted team: De Gea; Valencia, Evans, Vidic, Evra; Carrick, Fellaini; Nani, Young; Kagawa, Van Persie

Crystal Palace

Let’s begin with the bad news; Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway is set to miss the Eagles’ trip to Old Trafford after receiving a two-game touchline ban. Hence the already difficult task just got tougher for the Eagles. On to some good news now, Palace went on a shopping spree and brought in 16 new players through the door at Selhurst Park this summer. However, new boy Florian Marange has hit out at the club over his ‘disgusting’ treatment since signing from Bordeaux on a free transfer. Quite perplexingly, the 27-year-old was left out of the Eagles official 25-man Premier League squad list, meaning he will not be able to play for the first-team again until January.  However, other signings are eligible and the London club will look to build on the excellent win against the Black Cats in the previous round.

Ian Holloway is set to miss the game due to a touchline ban

Ian Holloway is set to miss the game due to a touchline ban

For any side coming to Old Trafford, containment is the priority and Palace will implement a similar game plan, or at least try to. Expect the visitors to bring out the proverbial “parked bus” and strangle United’s creative players. Holloway’s side will play on the counter as Chamakh who will lead the line would be expected to make most of his rare chances although new signing Jerome could partner him upfront. Further bad news comes in the form of long term injuries, Palace fear defender Jack Hunt (broken ankle) and winger Jonathan Williams (ankle ligaments) could be missing for the rest of the year. Hunt, the 22-year-old full-back only joined the Eagles from Huddersfield just before the transfer window closed in a deal worth £2million but it will be a good while before he can make his debut.

Deadline-day signing Barry Bannan could prove pivotal in the Eagles’ fight against relegation. The Scotland international completed a late switch to Selhurst Park from Aston Villa on Monday, capping a busy transfer window for the Eagles. Late deals for Barry Bannan, Jimmy Kebe, Cameron Jerome, Adrian Mariappa along with the now injured Jack Hunt meant that there is renewed vigor and hope in the camp as starting places are up for grab.

Predicted team: Speroni; Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey; Puncheon, Jedinak, Bannan, Campana; Jerome, Chamakh

Key Facts

1) United have won only 2 of its last 6 games in the Premier League, both against Swansea

2) Man United are undefeated in the last five league meetings between the two sides.

3) The Eagles won the last encounter between the two sides at Old Trafford in the League cup.

Player To Watch Out For

Marouane Fellaini (Man United)

It has to be the multi-million pound signing Fellaini. The Belgian is all set to make his Old Trafford and Man United debut and fans anticipate the midfielder to add steal to United’s midfield and provide a launching pad for the creative players in the squad to prosper.

Prediction

Manchester United 3 – 0 Crystal Palace

Palace will try hard and give it their all, but United and David Moyes have a lot to prove. Expect the home side to come out all guns blazing and run riot on their opponents.