Manchester United return to Premier League action this weekend as they get ready to host Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Manchester United will restart life in the Premier League on Saturday at Old Trafford as they take on Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace. The delay in their schedule stems from their participation in the Europa League last season when they reached the semi-finals of the competition before being beaten by Sevilla.
The Red Devils faced problems in first-half of the 2019/20 Premier League last season, but they were largely resolved after the signing of Bruno Fernandes, who came in and was able to glue the team together.
Proof of the same is the fact that United gained the most points since Bruno’s joining, more than the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool. This also helped them finish 3rd in the table, which would not have seemed likely in January.
It was quite an eventful season for Crystal Palace as well, who started off quite well and were hobbling around mid-table. But, they were not able to enjoy that beat throughout the season and eventually finished no higher than 14th, one point off Newcastle.
The Eagles did start the new season with a 1-0 win to Southampton, before a penalty shootout exit from the Carabao Cup at the hands of Bournemouth.
Last season, this fixture did not turn out to be an excellent hosting for United, who were victims of two goalkeeping blunders and eventually lost the game 2-1, with Patrick van Aanholt scoring the winner in the 93rd minute. With a refreshed squad, they were able to win the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park and will hope to replicate that showing.
Team News & Tactics
There are no major injury concerns for Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer ahead of their league opener. The only players who are missing will be Phil Jones, who is suffering from a long-term injury, and Axel Tuanzebe.
Luke Shaw returned to training last week and is expected to start the game after being given the medical green-light. The Englishman would be counting his lucky stars that Manchester United did not pursue Sergio Reguilon. Aaron Wan-Bissaka will return to the right side of the back four.
Shaw and Wan-Bissaka will be flanking the centre-back duo of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof, the former of which will return to the pitch officially since the Europa League semi-finals in mid-August after enjoying a rather eventful holiday period.
In midfield, the double pivot of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic is expected to take on the field again, playing behind Bruno Fernandes, who will be deployed a no. 10 in the 4-2-3-1. New signing Donny van de Beek is also in contention to start but will feature in a different structure.
Mason Greenwood was another United player who had the spotlight on him throughout the off-season and might not get the nod ahead of Daniel James in the right-wing role pertaining to the same. The star duo of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial is expected to start the game as the left-winger and striker respectively.
The big question in this setup comes in the form of the goalkeeper. Ole has two players to choose from, one of them is legendary United goalie David de Gea, and the other is young stud Dean Henderson, who enjoyed a fantastic season with Sheffield United. We expect the latter to take on the role on Sunday.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Pogba, Matic; James, Bruno, Rashford; Martial
Roy Hodgson will have to cater to multiple injuries for the game against Manchester United, with James Tomkins, Nathan Ferguson, Connor Wickham sidelined. At the same time, Gary Cahill, Patrick van Aanholt and Christian Benteke are also likely to miss out.
New loanee Michy Batshuayi ought to start the game in the centre-forward role and will be partnered by Jordan Ayew in a two-man striker system. Wilfried Zaha and Andres Townsend enjoyed a good outing against Southampton, and will, in most probability, start the game as the wide midfielders.
Zaha and Townsend will be flanking the double pivot of captain Luka Milivojevic and James McArthur in the centre of the park. James McCarthy could be brought on later in the game as a box-to-box midfielder to add an additional attacking option if Palace are trailing.
Van Aanholt has made progress in training, but will not start the game, as it might come to soon for him. Joel Ward will play as the right-back, while Cheikhou Kouyate and Scott Dann start the game at the heart of the defence. Youngster Tyrick Mitchell enjoyed a promising outing for the Eagles against So’ton and will return to the left-back slot. Vicente Guaita will start between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Guaita; Ward, Kouyate, Cahill, Mitchell; Townsend, McArthur, Milijojevic, Zaha; Ayew, Batshuayi
- Manchester United and Crystal Palace have met 22 times in their history in the Premier League, of which United have won 17 times, while Crystal Palace have won only once.
- United have won three of their last five games against Palace. The rest two have been a loss and a draw – both at Old Trafford.
- The Red Devils have won three and drawn two of their last five games in the Premier League.
- Palace have won just one of their last five games in the Premier League. They have lost thrice in the process.
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Roy Hodgson have faced each other thrice, with Ole winning two games, Roy winning one.
Player to Watch
Manchester United are slowly, but steadily building a strong team that will be able to contest for the title given the right resources and consistently top management by Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer. At the cornerstone of this team, though, will be French striker Anthony Martial.
Last season, he was at the goalscoring helm for the team, registering 17 goals and giving six assists in 32 league games. He capped off his season winning Manchester United Players’ Player of the Year award – given to the best player in the United team, as voted by rest of the players.
The 24-year-old was also quite active in the international break, winning the penalty in the first game for France, and then assisting the opener for the world champions against Croatia. On Saturday, he has the chance to go again, and help United start the season on a winning note.
Manchester United 2-0 Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace started their season quite well against a highly-motivated Southampton who finished last season exceptionally well. But, Saturday’s game poses a different kind of challenge against one of the best teams in the league, who will be playing to prove a point, to their board, owners, and most importantly to the fans.
With Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes in spectacular form, it would be suspectful to not predict a comfortable win for the hosts against the Eagles this weekend.