It will be Ralf Rangnick’s first match in the dugout on Sunday, as Crystal Palace travel to face Manchester United at Old Trafford. The German coach will want to make an immediate impact, as the home side attempt to get back into contention for the top four. It will be interesting to see if there are any changes in personnel or style on Sunday. For the visitors, it has been a tough period, as they have taken just one point from their last three matches. Patrick Vieira won’t be expecting to win on Sunday, but the Frenchman will be expecting a good performance from his team.
The win over Arsenal was a major shot in the arm for Manchester United’s top four hopes, as they are now three points behind West Ham United. There are four main contenders to finish in fourth, with United competing with the Hammers, Arsenal and Tottenham. Rangnick is highly respected as a coach, having influenced several coaches to come through in Germany. It will be fascinating to see how he approaches his interim role at Old Trafford. In his unveiling, he suggested he could stay on longer. He will need to perform incredibly well for that to happen, starting with three points on Saturday.
Crystal Palace have been a great watch this season, as they have transformed their style under Vieira. Many expected them to be a big contender for relegation this season, but those fears have been eased. There is a lot of talent in the Palace squad and they are an exciting team to watch. During the week, they lost to Leeds United. However, they were the better team and they had the better chances. One weakness is their defending at set pieces. No team have conceded more than Palace from these situations and this is one area that they will need to improve in the coming weeks.
Manchester United have conceded in their last 15 matches at Old Trafford across all competitions.
Crystal Palace have only lost once in their last four Premier League meetings with Manchester United. In the corresponding fixture last season, the Eagles won 3-1.
The Manchester United academy graduate has had a slow start to the season following surgery on his back injury. However, he is now building up his match fitness and he could be one of the main beneficiaries of the managerial change. Rangnick is known for his ability to work with and improve young players. Rashford has been a first team player at Old Trafford for a while, but he is still only 24-years-old. This is a crucial phase in his development and Rangnick could be the right coach to take his game to a new level. He has the physical attributes to be a big success under the interim manager. It is likely he will be used in a wide forward option in support of Cristiano Ronaldo. Since his return, the England international has two goals and one assist in 331 Premier League minutes. It is a steady start, but he has the potential to be a much greater influence in the coming months.
This has been one of the best signings made by any club last summer. Conor Gallagher is only on loan at Crystal Palace, but he has already built a bond with the supporters and he is an integral player in their first team. This season, the midfielder has managed to break into the England squad, as a result of his performances for the Eagles. He is an attack-minded midfielder, who looks to get forward and break into the box whenever possible. There are some shades of Frank Lampard in his style, which will excite Chelsea supporters. Thomas Tuchel has spoken highly of the midfielder. Gallagher believes that he is good enough to break into the team at Stamford Bridge. To prove this, he needs to perform in matches like this one. He was excellent in Palace’s surprise win against Manchester City. A similar performance on Sunday will further enhance his reputation.
There are still some notable absentees for Manchester United. Paul Pogba, Raphael Varane and Edinson Cavani will all be unavailable this weekend. Cristiano Ronaldo is a doubt after limping off at the end of the match against Arsenal. If it was only fatigue, there is a chance that he is rested. Luke Shaw is a doubt as he continues his recovery from a head injury.
Joel Ward will be missing for Palace, after he picked up his fifth yellow card during the week. Joachim Andersen and James McArthur are both unlikely to return from their respective injuries.
There is some momentum at Old Trafford after a successful caretaker period under Michael Carrick. They have taken four points from matches against Chelsea and Arsenal. This is an easier match for Manchester United, but Palace shouldn’t be underestimated. Vieira has already overseen one headline victory in Manchester this season and he will be desperate to add a second. That said, the atmosphere at Old Trafford will be good and the players will be keen to start the Rangnick era with a win.
Manchester United 2-1 Crystal Palace