Manchester United would hope to end their season on a positive note in front of a full Old Trafford as they host Big Sam and his Crystal Palace side.
As Jose Mourinho stated aptly and much to the disappointment of Manchester United fans around the world, the fact is that the Premier League games right now are nothing but nuisance for the club as they prepare for the all-important Europa League final against Ajax – their only possible doorway to Champions League football.
Crystal Palace, on the other hand, can be chalked down as another team that Big Sam has worked his magic on, rescuing the Eagles from relegation to a safe lower mid-table position. And the boss would love to take a major scalp to end the season on a high note as he prepares his team for the next campaign.
We take a closer look at the Manchester United’s penultimate fixture of their entire campaign.
Team News & Tactics
Manchester United FC
Jose Mourinho has already hinted at providing opportunities to the youngsters, with players like Angel Gomes, Matty Willock, Demi Mitchell, Zach Dearney and others all taking part in the first-team training session ahead of the game.
Mourinho confirmed that Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Paul Pogba are set to get minutes on Sunday, be it as a starter or otherwise. Manchester United fans could well be treated to a glimpse of Angel Gomes making his senior club debut on Sunday.
In other areas, Axel Tuanzebe could well be rested for the Europa League final and on the other hand, the manager is set to hand Joel Castro Pereira his first full-fledged league start for United. Wayne Rooney is unlikely to start the match and in all fairness, could have already played his last league match for United.
Probable Lineup ( 4-3-3 ): Pereira; Fosu-Mensah, Bailly, Blind, Mitchell; Willock, Pogba, McTominay; Dearnley, Martial, Lingard
Crystal Palace FC
Big Sam does not have any fresh injury concerns going into the game. Yohan Cabaye, Scott Dann and Andros Townsend are all doubts ahead of the tie and could miss the last fixture of the campaign. However, each player would be eager to give his best on Sunday, with the transfer window approaching.
Sam Allardyce is likely to rebuild the squad in the summer after having to take charge of the ship mid-way this season and Sunday’s performance could have a lot of weight attached to it.
All eyes will be on Wilfried Zaha, who returns to Old Trafford and has been in sensational form for the Eagles this season. Christian Benteke is another major threat for the Red Devils on Sunday and it will be interesting to see how the youthful lineup of United fares against the cultured Eagles.
Probable Lineup ( 4-2-3-1 ): Hennessey; Ward, Kelly, Tomkins, Schlupp; McArthur, Milivojevic; Zaha, Puncheon, Townsend; Benteke
1. Manchester United have scored 2 goals in each of the last five meetings against Crystal Palace in all competitions.
2. No Flight for the Eagle – Crystal Palace are without a win against Manchester United in the Premier League, losing 12 and drawing 3.
3. Jose Mourinho, who is set to take charge of his 250th Premier League game, is unbeaten against Sam Allardyce in the Premier League.
4. Manchester United have won 16 of the 24 final day matches in the Premier League, the most of any team.
5. Christian Benteke has scored in both of his previous trips to Old Trafford, being on the losing side of a 3-1 scoreline.
Player to Watch
Joel Castro Pereira
The Portuguese custodian has some big boots to fill, coming in to guard the goal that has been guarded to date, by two top goalkeepers, in David De Gea and Sergio Romero. The youngster has already received the vote of confidence from Jose Mourinho and it would be interesting to see how he commands the goal on Sunday.
Manchester United FC 2 – 2 Crystal Palace FC
Even though United are likely to field a host of youngsters, the Red Devils’ fighting spirit should be very much visible on Sunday and Mourinho, too, is unlikely to arrest his unbeaten record against Sam Allardyce with ease.
It is likely to be an open game with goals on either end and since, United’s whole season have been a campaign of draws, we are going with a draw on Sunday.