Manchester United will look to continue their unbeaten start to the season when they host Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The season’s second international break is upon us, but before that there’s the small matter of another Premier League gameweek this weekend. Manchester United will be aiming to enter another international break on top of the table when Crystal Palace pay them a visit at Old Trafford, on Saturday.

The hosts have started the season in imperious fashion, with eight wins out of their first nine matches in all competitions. Jose Mourinho’s men come into this match on the back of a dominating win at CSKA Moscow as they claimed a 4-1 away success in the Champions League.

Crystal Palace, on the other hand, lie on the opposite end of the spectrum, winless and pointless after their first six games in the Premier League, and having failed to find the back of the net as well. Their latest result was a 5-0 plundering at the hands of Manchester City and another tough test awaits on the weekend.

The corresponding fixture last season was the final match of the league campaign for both sides, with Manchester United enjoying a comfortable 2-0 win. Ahead of their latest meeting on Saturday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester United

Jose Mourinho has a number of injury problems to contend with ahead of the visit of Crystal Palace on Saturday. In fact, the Manchester United boss could be without the services of as many as seven key first-team players as his injury list continues to grow.

Phil Jones is the latest player to make his way to the treatment table, with Jose Mourinho claiming the English defender will be unavailable on Saturday. Jones has joined Michael Carrick (unspecified), Marouane Fellaini (ankle), Paul Pogba (hamstring), Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (both knee) on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, Antonio Valencia is doubtful as well due to a lack of match fitness, but Mourinho seemed optimistic about the Ecuadorian’s availability in his pre-match press conference. Valencia should, thus, lead the side out on Saturday, with Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Matteo Darmian likely to join him at the back.

Up front, there aren’t any major problems for Mourinho, and the likes of Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku are expected to line up in attack, with Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera likely to be the midfield duo.

Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Darmian; Herrera, Matic; Mata, Mkhitaryan, Rashford; Lukaku


Crystal Palace

Like his counterpart, Roy Hodgson has several roster issues on his hands as well ahead of the trip to Old Trafford. In fact, the Crystal Palace boss will have his work cut out on Saturday, with as many as six first-team players unavailable for the game.

Attack is the worst hit area for the English manager, with key men Christian Benteke (knee) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (thigh) picking up their respective injuries to join Wilfried Zaha and Connor Wickham (both knee) on the sidelines.

Benteke, like Zaha and Wickham, is a long-term absentee, but Loftus-Cheek is expected to return to action after the international break. Meanwhile, James Tomkins (illness) is on the treatment table as well, while Timothy Fosu-Mensah is ineligible to face his parent club.

In the absence of Benteke and Loftus-Cheek, the likes of Bakary Sako, Andros Townsend and Jason Puncheon will have the task of scoring Palace’s first goal of the season, while Mamadou Sakho and Scott Dann will have the unenviable job of keeping Lukaku and co. quiet at the back.

Possible Starting XI (4-5-1): Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Sakho, van Aanholt; Townsend, Cabaye, Milivojevic, Puncheon, Schlupp; Sako


Key Stats

  • Manchester United have never lost to Crystal Palace in the Premier League, having faced them 16 times previously (W13 D3 L0).
  • Crystal Palace last managed a league win over Manchester United in May 1991, in the erstwhile Football League First Division.
  • Crystal Palace are the only side in Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues who have not scored a single league goal this season.
  • Only two teams in English football history (all four tiers) have failed to score in their opening six league games of a season – Burnley in 1997-98 (third division) and Halifax Town (fourth division).
  • Romelu Lukaku has scored 19 goals in his last 21 league games – one more than Crystal Palace have managed in the same number of matches.

Betting Odds

Favourable Bets

1. Manchester United Asian Handicap -2.0 @1.850

2. Over 2.5 Match Goals @1.57

3. Manchester United to score in both halves @1.66

Underdog Bets

1. Correct Scoreline 4-0 @9.00

Player To Watch

Chris Smalling

Will Smalling make his chance count? (Photo courtesy - Robert Atanasovski/AFP/Getty Images)

Will Smalling make his chance count? (Photo courtesy – Robert Atanasovski/AFP/Getty Images)

From being one of the first names on the team sheet under Louis van Gaal to becoming a second-choice under Jose Mourinho, it has been a sea change of fortunes for Chris Smalling at Manchester United over the last twelve months.

The injury to Jones though, provides the English defender to possibly make a first start in the Premier League this season, albeit against a side that is unlikely to pose much of a threat to his side’s defensive unit on Saturday.

However, a strong showing on the day could make a lot of difference to the fortunes of the player going forward in the season, especially with Victor Lindelof making a case for regular inclusion as well.


Manchester United 4-0 Crystal Palace

Saturday’s match pits two teams that couldn’t be more disparate going into this weekend’s set of fixtures in the Premier League. Manchester United are flying high and scoring goals for fun while Crystal Palace are yet put a single point or goal on the board this season.

On paper, this looks like a straightforward win for Jose Mourinho and co. But Roy Hodgson is known to be a tricky customer. A solid start to the game could, therefore, frustrate the hosts and drag the chances of securing an unlikely away point or more for the Eagles.

Considering the discrepancy in form of the two sides though, it is likely that Palace’s goalscoring drought will continue for yet another week. The Hard Tackle predicts another four-goal salvo for Mourinho’s men – a 4-0 win to possibly head into the international break atop the table, if results later in the day go their way.

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