Manchester United will be eager to bounce back to winning ways when they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Wednesday.
The action is coming at a breakneck pace all across Europe and in England, several teams are playing games originally scheduled for Gameweek 29 early this week. One such fixture will be played at Selhurst Park, where Crystal Palace will play hosts to Manchester United on Wednesday night.
Crystal Palace have typically been mired in the lower mid-table fight once again this season, with relegation looking like a highly unlikely prospect. In the past month or so, the Eagles have blown hot and cold, losing four of their last eight outings, although they are currently on a mini unbeaten run, having followed up their win over Brighton with a goalless draw with Fulham.
Manchester United, on the other hand, have been steadily tailing off recently as far as the title race is concerned. Perched atop the Premier table not too long ago, the Red Devils are not 12 points behind neighbours Manchester City, who could extend their lead further when they take on Wolves on Tuesday. While they are unbeaten in six league outings, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer & co. have won just two of those games.
The reverse fixture, which was Manchester United’s first of the ongoing campaign, ended in a shock 3-1 win for Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, with Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha being the goal scorers. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Roy Hodgson has plenty of pressing injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Manchester United. On Wednesday, the Crystal Palace manager could be bereft of the services of as many as nine first-team players.
In particular, it is the absence of Wilfried Zaha that has Hodgson sweating and fuming, with the Crystal Palace boss livid at the fixture being rescheduled at short notice, thereby giving the former Manchester United forward a negligible chance to make his return for the game.
Apart from Zaha, the likes of Wayne Hennessey, Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins, Nathaniel Clyne, Nathan Ferguson, James McArthur, Jeffrey Schlupp and Connor Wickham all unavailable due to various injuries. Hodgson is, therefore, almost down to his bare bones as far as team selection is concerned.
Vicente Guaita is the obvious choice in goal, with Crystal Palace set to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him. Cheikhou Kouyate will continue to deputise at the heart of the defence, where he will pair up with Gary Cahill. Patrick van Aanholt and Joel Ward will be the two full-backs, with the duo primarily remaining pinned back.
Up ahead in midfield, the onus will be on the double pivot of Luka Milivojevic and Jairo Riedewald to do the containing job, with the former also holding the key in set-piece situations. The second bank of four will be completed by the wide pairing of Andros Townsend and Jordan Ayew, who will have a lot of defensive responsibilities.
Townsend, though, will also have a role to play going forward, with his break of pace likely to be the factor that will take the Manchester United defence by surprise. The key man in the Crystal Palace attack, though, will be Eberechi Eze, while Jean-Philippe Mateta will be the central striker.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Guaita; Ward, Kouyate, Cahill, van Aanholt; Milivojevic, Riedewald; Townsend, Eze, Ayew; Mateta
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not have as lengthy a bill of health on his hands as opposite number Roy Hodgson. However, the Manchester United manager still has a couple of important members of his squad on the sidelines, with as many as four likely to miss out against Crystal Palace.
Phil Jones and Juan Mata are the squad options that are unavailable, with their absence hardly hurting Manchester United much. However, Solskjaer will likely be waiting with bated breath for the return of Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani. While the former is still some way of regaining his fitness, Cavani could be back soon.
Solskjaer, though, is likely to preserve Cavani for the Manchester derby later this week, with Anthony Martial expected to lead the line for Manchester United against Crystal Palace. The French forward will likely be joined by Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford in an attack that will revolve around Bruno Fernandes, with the trio forming a fluid partnership.
In midfield, Nemanja Matic could be handed a rare start, with Scott McTominay making way for the veteran Serb. Matic will provide company to Fred in the double pivot, with the Brazilian being the enforcer. As for the defence, it is likely that Eric Bailly will replace Victor Lindelof, whose minutes will continue to be managed.
Bailly will, therefore, provide company to captain Harry Maguire at the heart of the Manchester United defence, with former Crystal Palace defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw being the two full-backs. Finally, David de Gea should once again feature in goal ahead of Dean Henderson.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, Matic; Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford; Martial
1. Manchester United to win @ 1.40
1. Over 3.5 Match Goals @ 3.00
- Crystal Palace have won two of their last three games against Manchester United (L1), as many as in their previous 27 meetings with the Red Devils. The Eagles stand a chance of completing their first league double over United on Tuesday.
- Manchester United have never lost in 11 Premier League away games against Crystal Palace, the longest such run for one side in the competition.
- Manchester United have won nine of their last 11 midweek Premier League games (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday), winning all six away games in this run.
- Only four clubs in English top-flight history have had a longer unbeaten run on the road than Manchester United’s current 20-game streak (W13 D7). The Red Devils have not lost any of their last seven league games in London (W4 D3), last having a longer run without defeat in the capital between December 2011 and December 2013 (13 games).
- Manchester United have played out five goalless draws this season; the only campaigns they have had more are 2004/05 and 2016/17 (six each).
Player to Watch
It has been such a difficult season for Anthony Martial and the problems are just not showing any signs of dissipating away. After being the Red Devils’ top scorer last term, Martial was supposed to push on further in his career. However, his struggles now mean that Manchester United have been touted to possibly be in the market for a striker.
The recent game versus Chelsea has also shown that Mason Greenwood could finally be given more chances centrally. And, with Edinson Cavani proving to be a shrewd addition to the squad, it is high time for Martial to start delivering the goods. For if he does not, then he could soon be sent down the pecking order, if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s patience with him wears thin.
Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United
This is not one of those games that will have bagful of goals in it. Crystal Palace do not pose a great deal of threat in the final third even on their best days while Manchester United have not found the back of the net as consistently as they potentially can in recent weeks.
However, Bruno Fernandes tends to revel in away games and if he can rediscover his best touch, he could potentially pave the way for a fine hard-fought win for the visitors. That should exactly be the case, with The Hard Tackle going with a 2-0 win for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer & co.