Two teams desperate for a win to go into the international break on a high, will face at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon where Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United will face Neil Warnock’s Crystal Palace. After the narrow derby defeat, the home side having to play with a man down for most part, undone by a Sergio Aguero goal in the second half, the Red Devils will be determined to continue their good form at home, where they have managed to claim most of their points they have on board at the moment. With just 13 points from 10 games, currently tenth-placed Manchester United have endured their worst start since 1986, meaning 3 points is an absolute must for Louis Van Gaal’s side on Saturday, if they seek to climb that table, before they enter into a more crucial period in the season.
The Eagles are struggling themselves, without a win in the last 4 games, travel to the North West on the back of a disappointing home loss against Sunderland, which saw them drop to 17th, just above the relegation spots on superior goals scored. Neil Warnock’s week was made more miserable when he received a fine from the Football Association, as a result of comments he made about referee Craig Pawson following a defeat to Chelsea last month. Like Saturday’s opponents, Crystal Palace also got a man sent off in their previous game as skipper Mile Jedinak received two yellow cards, making Saturday’s visit to Old Trafford all the more tougher. Neil Warnock in his pre-match press conference did touch on the absence of Jedinak and the effect it would have on Palace while also taking United’s defensive worries into account, he said,
“We’re not going to get a tougher place to go than Old Trafford without Jedinak. It will be interesting just to see how we get on without him, We’re going to be under pressure even with him in the team, so without him I’m looking forward to seeing how the lads cope because he is an important player for us. They [United] have got one or two problems but I think every club has problems here there and everywhere. No doubt they will solve those in January and spend a few more quid. But they’ve got some fabulous players. When you play against teams like Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd, you can’t say you can stop him and stop him. The threats are everywhere.”
Manchester United notched up a rather facile 2-0 win at Old Trafford when the two sides met last year. Skipper Wayne Rooney got himself on the score-sheet with an excellent free kick. Robin Van Persie scored from the spot.
Chris Smalling will miss the game due to suspension. Fellow center-half Marcos Rojo had to be stretchered off in the derby and is certain to miss Saturday’s encounter. While Rafael, Phil Jones and Radamel Falcao have been on the sidelines and could all miss out. Jonny Evans has been doing some light training but Saturday’s game might come too soon for him. James Wilson is rumored to lead the line alongside Robin Van Persie.
Palace will miss their captain Mile Jedinak, sent off against the Black Cats, and the injured Stuart O’Keefe. On-loan Wilfried Zaha is ineligible to face his parent club.
- Manchester United have not lost to Crystal Palace in the past 12 league meetings with their last defeat at the hands of Saturday’s opposition coming in 1991, at Selhurst Park.
- Crystal Palace are 17th in the table on superior goals scored, having scored 3 times more than Leicester City.
- Manchester United have not lost at home in the league, since the opening day defeat against Swansea City. They have managed to win the next 3 home games and held out for a 1-1 draw against Chelsea.
- Crystal Palace have scored a higher proportion of goals from set pieces than any other team in the Premier League (57%).
Wayne Rooney – Manchester United
There isn’t a shadow of doubt that Wayne Rooney will go down as one of the greatest players in Premier League history when he finally calls it a day. Having been with the club for more than a decade now, Rooney has arguably progressed in every season he’s played at United and this season, he’s given the extra responsibility in the shape of an armband that he so proudly wears during games. Back from a three-game suspension, he put in a spirited performance at the Etihad and despite the side came away empty handed, there were a few positives to take from the game and one of them certainly was his return to the starting 11. He’s already found the net 3 times in 7 appearances, with 2 assists, Wayne also puts in a shift defensively to help his team out when they are chasing the ball. He’s showed his ability to pick out accurate passes be it short or long, he’s maintained a 82% pass success rate at an average of 50 passes per game. Having hit 50% of his shots on target, the skipper could be vital for Man United in causing Palace problems and get his side a much needed victory.
Fraizer Campbell – Crystal Palace
Campbell has chipped in with important goals this season so far with goals against Everton and Leicester eventually ended up useful as Palace managed to win both the games early on in the season. He’s had 3 goals in 10 appearances so far with an impressive 62% shots on target, meaning Palace should get him more on the ball, to present themselves as many scoring opportunities as they can. He’s also created 4 chances from open play, with an overall pass accuracy of 72% – something he will have to improve on in the future. His ability to run behind defences and feed off the shoulders of center-halves will come in handy against an injury-hit back line he that is well short of confidence. With very few attacking options at his disposal, Warnock could be setting his team around the ex-Manchester United striker’s gameplay, making him a handful to defend against, on Saturday.
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A struggling Crystal Palace at home in many ways can be seen as the perfect fixture for Manchester United heading into the international break. But then, the visitors will fancy their chances at Old Trafford against a back four that simply cannot stop conceding cheap goals but eventually fall agonizingly short. A late Marouane Fellaini winner is written all over this game.
Manchester United 2-1 Crystal Palace