To round off another weekend of Premier League football, Manchester United will travel down to glamorous South London – to take on Hodgson’s injury-ravaged Crystal Palace, on Monday night.
Palace are the quintessential ‘rabbit caught in the headlights’ side this season – struck by a wave of injuries, enforced substitutions and some really poor results – often not reflective of their actual performances. Hodgson’s Eagles after a decent start to life under the new regime, have now failed to win any of their last five games in the league and find themselves in the relegation zone with only 27 points on board. Yet, given the volatility of the bottom half of the table, the Eagles should feel positive about their chances of surviving the drop particularly when only 6 points separate themselves and Bournemouth who are seven places above in the table.
For Manchester United, it is all about sustaining their position in the top four while diverting their attention towards the cup competitions where there is a chance of continuing their run of winning some silverware this year. Mourinho has already hinted about his stance on the remaining games ever so subtly when he brought up the subject of finishing fourth instead of second, not making much a world of difference, in the bigger picture.
However, United could do better than finishing fourth this campaign and with arch-rivals Liverpool hot on their heels, the Red Devils cannot afford to slip-up ahead of their meeting with Jurgen Klopp’s free-scoring Reds at Old Trafford. While the outcome in that game could potentially decide who gets to finish runners-up, Mourinho’s side ought to build on their impressive second-half performance against the reigning Champions if they were to claim maximum points on Monday night.
Mourinho told MUTV on Friday that his side will be without defenders Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo again for the trip to Selhurst Park, with Ander Herrera also sidelined.
Meanwhile, Palace will be without defender Tim Fosu-Mensah, who is on loan from United and therefore ineligible to face his parent club. Former Reds winger Wilfried Zaha is also on a lengthy list of absentees, which includes Scott Dann, Mamadou Sakho, Jason Puncheon and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Boss Roy Hodgson told the media on Thursday that Martin Kelly and Jeffrey Schlupp are the only two players likely to return from injury on Monday.
- Crystal Palace haven’t won any of their 17 PL meetings with Manchester United, the most a team has played another without a single victory in the competition (D3 L14).
- Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku have combined for six PL goals this season (3 assists each to each other). No Man United partnership has had more in a single campaign, with Martial/Wayne Rooney in 2015/16 the last duo to get this many.
Andros Townsend – Crystal Palace
Townsend, with his pace and the ability to get in behind the fullback can certainly open up different avenues for Palace on Monday. The England International has 5 assists to his name and with the absence of arguably their most potent forward in Wilfried Zaha, Townsend has the opportunity to bring his experience to the table and cause a possible upset on Monday.
Paul Pogba – Manchester United
Pogba has scored in both of his PL matches against Crystal Palace. They are the only team he has scored against both home and away in the competition.
The Frenchman had a very good outing against Chelsea as Mourinho’s side claimed a crucial win against Chelsea. Their assured performance in the second half stemmed from the control they had in midfield, thanks to the trio of Matic, McTominay and Pogba. In a similar setup on Monday, Pogba will be provided with the opportunity to affect the game in the final third now with the insurance cover that is Matic and McTominay protecting the defence, meaning it will be on the Frenchman to deliver the goods and all three points at Selhurst Park.
United to build on the momentum in South London.
Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United