Manchester United will be heading out to Selhurst Park in search of a win after drawing their last two fixtures in all competitions.
The Capital One Cup exit by penalties was unfortunate and really relied upon on luck. After Louis Van Gaal’s team once again dominated the game through possession and passing, there was no end product in 90 minutes and 120 minutes. The penalties were awful and the only converted penalty was scored by a youngster. Is it a coincidence that the missed penalties were taken by English players or is that another stereotype which haunts England players? At these the games are coming thick and fast with the season back on track.
United travel to Crystal Palace, where they are sitting in seventh position and five points behind the Red Devil’s. Alan Pardew has made some impact at the club since taking over. He has bought a style of play where his team has pace on the wings as well as having attackers ready to play on the counter attack. Although, in the league, they have lost four of the last six fixtures, only winning against Watford and West Brom. So they are not looking their strongest at the moment. It does not help when they have lost 5-1 to Man City in the league cup either.
It looks like Van Gaal will be without Memphis and Wilson who came off against Middlesbrough. Valencia has a foot injury and McNair is still out. Young got some minutes under his belt and looks to be available as he resumes match fitness. For Pardew, he could be boosted by the return of Cabaye after missing the game against Man City midweek. Souare and Ward are doubtful. Puncheon has recovered from illness and could feature.
As expected Van Gaal was going to rig the changes of his starting line-up to give some of the younger players a chance to show what they can do. It gave the chance for Wilson, Lingard and Pereira to be involved in the first team. Wilson was unfortunate to not make an impression as it is difficult for any striker to play in this system. Whereas Lingard and Pereira were able to make runs from midfield and stretch the play. There has been some pressure put on Memphis to make an impact at the club but he was showing strides of his quality but was lacking the finishing in front of goal. In midfield, Fellaini had one of his better games in the red shirt as he was controlling the balls in the air. Obviously, there was a scare in goal when Romero misjudged the back pass and the ball rolled out for a corner.
There is a lot of emphasis on Rooney not scoring and where he should play in the team. It could be the tactics and formation which is hindering his chances to score goals. The wide players are not crossing the ball into the box and the play is often completed by passing the ball in the back of the net. It is not the style United fans are used to as before it was the flamboyant, taking risks and quick counter attacks which left opposition on the floor. We know the club is in a transition period under another coach but the core of the style of play is not what it was before. The chances need to be taken and players need to play in their desired positions.
Palace will have so much to offer in attack and the United defence will need to be up to the task. It looks like Jones will replace Blind in the heart of defence and Rojo continuing at left back. Bolaise, Zaha and Puncheon have speed and you do not want to keep playing the ball from the back. There is no point of trying to play the offside game as they are very quick to reach onto through balls. If United are not focused, they will be caught out very early on. So they will need to take the chances with precision. That’s where Herrera could be involved as he has an eye for goal. Martial would relish the chance to go against the full back once again Rooney leading the line.
Possible starting XI:
Palace; Hennessey, Kelly, Mariappa, Dann, Hangeland, Cabaye, McArthur, Puncheon, Sako, Bolaise, Campbell.
Man Utd; De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Mata, Herrera, Martial, Rooney.