Manchester United vs Crystal Palace Preview (December 5, 2021)

Written By Uttiyo Sarkar on December 3, 2021

Manchester United officially heads into a new era under Ralf Rangnick when they host Crystal Palace. It’s now time for change and some expertise to galvanize the club. Rangnick is recognized as ‘The Godfather’ of German soccer.

He’s mentored the likes of Jurgen Klopp, Thomas Tuchel & Julian Nagelsmann – helping them become top managers. He idolizes the ‘gegenpressing’ style – which Klopp uses at Liverpool – and will look to implement that at Old Trafford.

But, implementing such a complex tactic won’t be quick (or easy). For now, he’ll aim to ensure the Red Devils continue their winning momentum. They face an unpredictable Palace side that can ruin all the fun if underestimated. United have to be wary of the threat, work hard & pounce on chances to start the Rangnick era in an emphatic fashion.

Manchester United Likely XI

De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles, Fred, Van de Beek, Greenwood, Bruno, Sancho, Ronaldo

Raphael Varane & Paul Pogba remain sidelined with injuries, while Luke Shaw is still not fully fit. Nemanja Matic has a hamstring issue, but Edinson Cavani & Aaron Wan-Bissaka could be back.

Crystal Palace Likely XI

Guaita, Clyne, Tomkins, Guehi, Mitchell, Kouyate, Schlupp, Gallagher, Eze, Zaha, Edouard

James McArthur, Joachim Andersen & Nathan Ferguson are all injured. Joel Ward is suspended.

Manchester United vs Crystal Palace Preview

While Rangnick is expected to bring in formidable change within United’s set-up, he possibly can’t do it as quickly as the Palace game. There could be a few tweaks to the system which could see the Red Devils playing a more high-press style on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo is often criticized for his lack of pressing. But he isn’t someone you can bench. Ronaldo has the work ethic to adapt into any system & should benefit from Rangnick’s fast-pace attacking style.

After an impressive brace against Arsenal, CR7 will look to continue being a menace up-front – finishing off chances clinically & also helping create moves with his clever link-up play. Bruno Fernandes plays with his heart on his sleeve.

That’s why he should also thrive under Rangick’s set-up, as he does love pressing high up the pitch. Fernandes’ main objective will, obviously, be to continue creating big chances & get into those clever areas to try scoring more goals.

Jadon Sancho’s experience of playing in Germany for many years could help him impress under a German manager. The Englishman’s picked up form recently, creating & scoring important goals. He’ll probably be given freedom to wreak havoc with his dribbling & movement, but be urged to be more decisive with his passing & press sharply to help with the transitions.

Mason Greenwood could make a return after missing the last few games. The 20-year-old has to be defensively sharper to thrive under Rangnick’s set-up, but can be an asset finishing off the swift breaks if able to maintain composure in the final third.

Donny van de Beek could get a second lease on life at Old Trafford with Rangnick’s arrival. If able to prove himself as a dynamic, energetic midfielder, he can start playing more games under the new manager & should look to produce a lively performance to trouble Palace.

Fred’s probably the best presser at United. He should have no problems adapting to the new set-up. If given freedom in midfield, the Brazilian can torment Palace’s midfielders with his relentless pressing & create a few chances by getting forward more often.

But the problem, as Rangnick himself admitted in his unveiling press conference on Friday, lies with United’s defending. They’re still conceding way too many silly goals. The back four really needs to pick up their form, maintaining a much sturdier shape to keep more clean sheets.

Palace will definitely pose a formidable threat. They defeated Man City at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season. Under new boss Patrick Vieira, the Eagles are playing some surprisingly effective attacking soccer. Wilfried Zaha & Eberechi Eze can use their tricky styles to bamboozle defenders and are very decisive in the final third.

Connor Gallagher’s like an unstoppable train in midfield, but also packed with plenty of creative genius to set up chances. Summer signing Odsonne Edouard is ruthless in front of goal, while Tyrone Mitchell & Nathaniel Clyne can create unique chances themselves.

United have to be more balanced with their style. They can’t be as open as they were against Arsenal. Taking too many risks can be troubling. Harry Maguire & Victor Lindelof must marshal their troops to keep a stubborn defensive line.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka & Alex Telles will be tasked to create chances going forward, but have to be defensively proactive to cut Palace’s supply. As usual, David de Gea has to be on his toes & ready to make world-class saves to keep his side in the game.

Rangnick would want to introduce himself to the fans with a commanding win. To do so, he has to motivate his players to give their all – but also train them to control the game well & be decisive on transitions. If able to execute their new manager’s gameplan perfectly, United should continue their ‘new manager’ bounce and move closer to the Premier League top-4.

Prediction

Palace hasn’t won their last 3 league games & United are on the upwards trajectory. It won’t be easy, but I think United will see off a 3-1 win.

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Uttiyo Sarkar

An unbiased Manchester United die-hard. Lover of the beautiful game. Addicted to the Premier League and beyond. Hopeful writer in the search for the greater good.

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