Crystal Palace vs Manchester United
Venue: Selhurst Park
Referee: Kevin Friend
Manchester United travel to London to face Crystal Palace on Wednesday night looking to maintain their unbeaten run in the Premier League under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United earned a valuable point against Liverpool at the weekend after they were ravaged by injury in the first half as they keep their top four hopes alive. The Red Devils currently sit fifth in the league, two points ahead of Chelsea in sixth and just one point behind Arsenal in fourth.
Top four was a distant hope for United when Mourinho was sacked last December but an astounding unbeaten run since then has seen them re-enter the fray. With United still having to face top four rivals Arsenal and Chelsea before the end of the season, as well as a huge derby fixture against Manchester City, a midweek victory against Palace is essential if they are to keep the pressure on the teams above them.
Crystal Palace currently sit 13th in the league and will be looking to improve on their 11th place finish last season. Roy Hodgson has dug deep and turned his side’s fortunes around after an abysmal run of form in late-December and January that saw them lose four out of five fixtures.
Since the end of January though, Palace have steadied the ship and their 4-1 thumping of Leicester City last weekend will put them in high spirits going into Wednesday night’s fixture.
Both sides will be without key players this week. Crystal Palace defenders Mamadou Sakho, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Martin Kelly and Pape Souaré all look set to miss the fixture, whilst Conor Wickham and Julián Speroni are also unavailable for the Eagles.
Wan-Bissaka is probably the biggest miss for Palace as the young right-back continues to recover from the hamstring injury which saw him miss last weekend’s match against Leicester City.
United face injury problems of their own after they were forced into making all three substitutions before half time against Liverpool due to injuries to Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Jesse Lingard. In addition to these players, Nemanja Matic looks certain to miss the fixture with a muscle injury while there are major doubts over the fitness of Matteo Darmian, Anthony Martial, Antonio Valencia, Marcus Rojo and Marcus Rashford.
Scott McTominay did an excellent job deputising for Matic against Liverpool and will almost certainly fulfil that role again on Wednesday. Andreas Pereira was equally impressive with his energy and fight when he replaced Ander Herrera at the weekend.
With both Lingard and Martial looking set to miss out, Alexis Sanchez will be given an opportunity to prove his worth after some disappointing performance in recent weeks.
The injury crisis also gives Solskjaer the opportunity to give some first team experience to younger players such as James Garner and Tahith Chong who may make appearances from the bench. Forgotten man Fred could also be given the opportunity to impress himself upon the team on Wednesday night.
Predicted Starting XIs
Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Guaita; Ward, Tomkins, Dann, Van Aanholt; McArthur, Milivojevic, Schlupp; Townsend, Batshuayi, Zaha.
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Pereira, McTominay, Pogba; Lukaku, Sanchez, Rashford.
Score Prediction: Crystal Palace 1 Manchester United 2
Despite their injury crisis, United will be on a high after their performance against Liverpool last weekend and should edge this one out. Palace have been impressive in recent weeks and won’t make it easy for the visitors but the quality of United should shine through in the end.