Manchester United were able to stretch their unbeaten away record in the Premier League to 20 games against Chelsea, but they’re yet to win a game against a traditional top-6 side in the league this season. Fortunately, the Red Devils tend to win the games against the relatively ‘weaker’ sides, which is the reason behind them still being 2nd in the table.
They square up against Crystal Palace next in the run-in to the big Manchester Derby. Palace, however, have been their ‘bogey team’ (a weaker side which always causes them problem) & actually dealt Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side their first loss of the season in the opening game! United are gunning for revenge and aim to get back to winning ways away from home with a dominant win in order to head into the Man City clash high on momentum.
Crystal Palace Likely XI
Guaita, Ward, Kouyate, Cahill, Van Aanholt, Milivojevic, McCarthy, Townsend, Eze, Ayew, Mateta
Palace has been ravaged by injuries as of late, with 8 first-team stars on the treatment table including the likes of Nathaniel Clyne, James McCarthur, Jeffrey Schlupp & Mamadou Sakho. The most prominent one, Wilfried Zaha, is also unlikely to feature.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, McTominay, Bruno, Greenwood, Rashford, Martial
Paul Pogba is still out with an injury, while United hope that Edinson Cavani can at least make the bench for this one.
Crystal Palace vs Manchester United Preview
Despite all their admirable performances in the 20-game unbeaten streak in away PL matches, United’s form has dipped away from home recently. They’ve now drawn their last 3 away league games & scored just 1 goal! They cannot afford another draw (or worse, a loss) before going into the biggest game of their campaign against City – who have won their last 20 CONSECUTIVE GAMES in all competitions.
The Red Devils desperately need their groove back and aim to do so against a Palace side who will play the dreaded low block defensive style that has been the bane of United’s campaign. But even without Pogba or Cavani, OGS’ side has enough quality to get back to winning ways at Selhurst Park – where United have recorded wins in their last 4 visits.
This is also the kind of games Bruno Fernandes excels at! After having a disappointing game against Chelsea (which does his poor big-game reputation no good), he’ll be seething to get back to his best against this injury-ravaged Palace side. The Portuguese midfielder needs to be clever with his sneaky runs in the final third to get at the end of crosses or create something special on his own with his experimental passes.
Marcus Rashford had a topsy-turvy performance vs Chelsea & he’ll also be gunning for glory here. He’ll look to torment Palace’s slow defenders with his pace & get behind their backline to be among the goals. Mason Greenwood was also unable to shine in the no.9 role on Sunday, but if he’s back to the right-wing position vs Palace, he’ll be taking his chances of cutting in from the wings to torment the hosts.
Anthony Martial has fallen flat since his brilliant brace in the 9-0 thrashing off Southampton. The Frenchman desperately need a goals, just as much United desperately need him to start firing. He’ll hope to do so against Palace by getting in behind their defenders & creating chances for himself, which he needs to start scoring by improving his finishing.
Scott McTominay & Fred will be back protecting their backline and helping with the transition from defence to attack, but both need to be more efficient in the final third than they were against Chelsea to create more definitive chances for their side.
Similarly, Aaron Wan-Bissaka also must step up his attacking game to put in more accurate crosses into the box to create stuff for his frontmen. Luke Shaw, although, can just continue his brilliant work & the rewards should come if the forwards are clinical enough. However, the Red Devils must beware not to overcommit too much or underestimate Palace’s threat.
Even without the brilliant Zaha, they have some tricky individuals upfront. Eberechi Eze is like Zaha’s younger version, gliding past defenders & scoring worldies when you least expect it. Jordan Ayew’s been a thorn for United whenever they’ve faced him, with his pace & trickery troubling defenders. Jean Philippe Mateta’s an efficient striker who can score goals out of nowhere.
Despite their shakiness in defence, United have only conceded 1 goal in their last 3 away league games. Eric Bailly & Harry Maguire must continue being an indomitable duo, while David de Gea needs to continue his stop-stopping heroics without errors.
United’s biggest challenge will be to bypass Palace’s low block of having nearly their entire team in defence. But as long as they dominate possession, shuffle up their attacking moves & take their chances, it should be another comfortable away win. If they’re as sloppy, wasteful as they were against Chelsea, Palace could make it a frustrating evening & even pull of a potential shocker!
Despite their sloppiness on the road recently, I think United should squeeze their way past this depleted Palace side. I’m going for a 2-1 win for the Red Devils.