LINE: Manchester United -305 | Draw +430 | Crystal Palace +850
WHEN: Saturday, September 19th @ 12:30pm EST
WATCH: NBC Sports / Peacock
There really isn’t much optimism around the Manchester United fanbase ahead of their Premier League opener against Crystal Palace. With priority signings yet to be made, players not fully fit and little to no pre-season for preparation, things aren’t looking so good.
But the only way to brighten up the gloomy mood around the club is with a compelling win! Palace outwitted them to snatch a shocking victory at Old Trafford last season & Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men want revenge. United will look to continue from where they left off last season, playing the impressive attacking style & hope everything clicks for them on Saturday.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Matic, Van de Beek, Bruno, Greenwood, Rashford, Martial
While the only injured ones are Axel Tuanzebe & Phil Jones, United could miss a few prominent starters due to lack of match fitness. Paul Pogba joined training late due to contracting Covid-19 and he’ll probably miss this one. That means new boy Donny van de Beek gets a start, while David de Gea keeps his place over Dean Henderson.
Crystal Palace Likely XI
Guaita, Ward, Sakho, Dann, Mitchell, Townsend, McArthur, McCarthy, Schlupp, Ayew, Zaha
Palace actually has a list of injury problems with defenders Gary Cahill, James Tomkins, Nathan Ferguson & Patrick Van Aanholt all doubtful for the game. Christian Benteke is also out, but Mamadou Sakho’s appearance in Palace’s Carabao Cup 2nd Round loss to Bournemouth on Tuesday means he could start at Old Trafford.
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace preview
The start of this season was supposed to be a dream come true for United. They looked set to make a blockbuster signing in Jadon Sancho, sign another centre-back & add more creativity to their midfield. Till now, only one of those ‘objectives’ has been fulfilled.
Nonetheless, Van de Beek should add a unique spark to the team. With his clever movement & ability on the ball, the Dutchman should be a breath of fresh air to United’s attack. This will also be the season where Bruno Fernandes gets to prove he’s more than a ‘half-season wonder’.
The Portuguese midfielder remains the engine of the team’s attacks & will be given full reigns to control the game. With his creativity & never-say-die attitude, Fernandes will look to hit the ground running with a prominent showing against Palace. But this is also the campaign where the Marcus Rashford–Anthony Martial– Mason Greenwood trio get to prove whether or not they’re truly world-class.
The three are excellent young talents in their own right but will need to polish their link-up play even more to be a real terror against any side. Rashford & Martial, in particular, will look to make good use of their intuitive bond to be a nightmare for Palace. The Englishman’s determined to better his work from last season and with his blistering pace, newfound creativity & clinical instincts, he should be delightful to watch as always.
Martial also gets to prove whether he’s truly among the top strikers in Europe this time around. At 24, he’s nearing his peak years & will look to start his season with a few impressive goals & a proper striker’s performance. Greenwood was involved in some unnecessary controversy in the summer but he’ll aim to shut up doubters by being the unpredictable threat he was in United’s attack.
Another guy who was involved in some horrible controversy (especially him getting arrested) was captain Harry Maguire! The Englishman must put in a dominant performance to make everyone forget his mistakes and needs to be more proactive/quicker in reacting to Palace’s threat on Saturday. With no new partner, he’ll aim to improve his understanding with the cool Victor Lindelof to gain a clean-sheet to start the season.
While United’s wing-backs Luke Shaw & Aaron Wan-Bissaka definitely need to improve their work in the final third, they’ll have to be wary of Palace’s attacks down the wings. With the terrorizing Wilfried Zaha (also in his prime years) & tricky Andros Townsend, they can’t allow the two to penetrate past them to create chances for the clinical Jordan Ayew.
Having won their opener, Palace will definitely sit back in numbers to frustrate United & look to capitalize on mistakes to get goals. The Red Devils need to be clever& diversify their attacking style to keep them guessing and need a real dominant win at Old Trafford to prove that new signings or not, this current lot is still capable of competing at the top.
That being said, this will probably be a cagey game with United’s players still rusty from lack of pre-season training. Expect Palace to frustrate them all game with their stringent defending & perhaps get a goal on the counter, but I expect Solskjaer’s men to rally back and get a narrow 2-1 win.