Manchester United will hope to get back to winning ways when they lock horns with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
The race for the top four in the Premier League continues to heat up as Leicester City, Chelsea and Manchester United all dropped points in Gameweek 35. Chelsea were able to find their ground after the defeat at Sheffield United as they beat Norwich City in the first game of matchday 36.
United had the chance to take over the 3rd spot but fell to a 97th-minute equaliser against Southampton by super-sub Michael Obafemi. That goal meant two points lost and another week at least in the fifth spot. They will be hoping to get back to winning ways as well as they travel to London to face off against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Crystal Palace, on the other hand, do not have a lot to play for, and that has been quite evident since football resumed. They sit 14th on the table, 12 points clear off the relegation zone. They dropped points against Aston Villa in their previous game thanks to two unanswered goals from Trezeguet, one in each half.
The reverse fixture did not go well for the Red Devils, who were beaten 2-1. Jordan Ayew opened the scoring for Palace. United had the chance to draw level through a Marcus Rashford penalty which hit the woodwork. They did get their equaliser in the 89th minute through Daniel James, but Patrick van Aanholt won it for the Eagles in stoppage time, having forced David de Gea into an error.
Team News & Tactics
Roy Hodgson has one new concern ahead of their game against Manchester United. The hassle comes in the form of Christian Benteke who is suspended after picking up a red card after the game ended for violent conduct against Villa. Gary Cahill, James Tomkins and Jeffrey Schlupp continue to be out for the team and are unlikely to return this season.
Vincent Guaita will retain his spot as the goalkeeper and will start in the six-yard box. Scott Dann and Mamadou Sakho will screen the Spaniard at the heart of defence while Joel Ward and Patrick van Aanholt provide the width from the back. Martin Kelly is in contention for a place as well and could replace Ward at right-back.
Luka Milivojevic will start as the sole holding midfielder in the centre of the park. James McArthur and Cheikhou Kouyate will play as auxiliary central midfielders. This midfield will be arched by Wilfred Zaha on the left and Andros Townsend on the right.
Jordan Ayew has played his skin out for Crystal Palace this season as Zaha has dropped in form and quality. He will get the chance to lead the line in his preferred position in the absence of Benteke. The Ghanaian international has missed only one game this season and has nine goals to show for his efforts.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Guaita; Ward, Dann, Sakho, van Aanholt; Townsend, McArthur, Milivojevic, Kouyate, Zaha; Ayew
Following their game against Southampton, three Manchester United players have come as doubtful for the match against Crystal Palace, namely Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood. However, Shaw and Williams participated in group training and are fit to participate in the game at Selhurst Park.
Greenwood, however, will lose his spot in the lineup to avoid exacerbating his condition. We could be in for a cameo, though. Daniel James will replace him on the right flank and will be aided by Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford who will start in attacking midfield and on the left-wing respectively. Man-in-form Anthony Martial will lead the line for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Paul Pogba will retain his position in the midfield after he was subbed off early against Southampton. Nemanja Matic will start alongside the World Cup winner in the double pivot. Pogba will be given the role to break lines of pressure through his threateningly accurate long ball and forward runs.
This double pivot will have the responsibility to screen the defence featuring Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof as the centre-halves. Aaron Wan-Bissaka will start at right-back while the left-back role remains a bit contentious. However, we expect Diogo Dalot to get his break in the lineup with Williams and Shaw recovering. David de Gea will hold the fort between the posts.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Dalot; Pogba, Matic; James, Bruno, Rashford; Martial
- Crystal Palace have won just one game against Manchester United in Premier League history. United have won 16, while four have been ties.
- Palace have lost their last five games in the Premier League, and have won just once since the season resumed.
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Roy Hodgson have come across just twice in their careers and have won a game each.
- United have won their previous three meetings with Palace at Selhurst Park, scoring eight goals and conceding four.
- Hodgson has faced United 17 times in his career and has lost in 13 of those and won thrice. Not a pretty record.
Player to watch
Anthony Martial has been in spectacular form since football resumed. He has scored five goals and set up three for his teammates in seven appearances in all competitions. This also includes a hat-trick against Sheffield United which was Manchester United’s first in seven years in the Premier League.
He also went into the record books with his stunning goal against Southampton on the weekend becoming the 10th player in Manchester United history to scored 50 or more goals in the English league. Martial also assisted Marcus Rashford for the equaliser, taking his tally in the league to 16 goals and five assists for the season.
The Frenchman has worked on his work-rate a lot under the management of Solskjaer, and it would come particularly handy against Crystal Palace who like to defend with a deep block. Martial will have to continually make his way around the defenders with or without the ball, and we expect him to deliver another masterclass.
Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United
Roy Hodgson likes his team to resemble a deep block when defending with the offence relying on counter-attacks. However, this has not worked for Palace since the restart. They have looked lethargic, and consequently, it has become easier to find holes in their team. Moreover, they will be without their best defender Gary Cahill, who picked up a hamstring injury against Chelsea.
As for Manchester United, they will be motivated to make up for a careless five-minute period at the end of the game against Southampton, because of which they missed out on one of the third spot. Tomorrow will be a new day, and Ole’s boys will go again, and we can expect them to put on a show against the frail London outfit.