Crystal Palace – Manchester United (Premier League)
The Red Devils travel to Selhurst Park on Saturday after a short break in the warmth of Dubai. They’ll need their batteries charged to get the better over Tony Pulis’ side in their home turf. United are United and they are desperate for a positive outcome. But Palace need the points to avoid relegation and at least their resurgence is real.
Since Tony Pulis is in charge of the Eagles their form has improved significantly but this is a terrible season to be in the bottom-half of the Premier League. Things are so close there that one win could lift 15th seed Crystal Palace five post up to mid-table and one loss could drop them to “the zone”. Their last game was two weeks ago, the last fixture at Everton was postponed because of the weather conditions. No reason the squad shouldn’t feel fully rested, no injuries or fitness issues, and eager to get back on the horse. And just in time. Thirteen ties to the end of the Premier League take notice of the opposition they’ll face at Selhurst Park alone – United, Southampton, Chelsea, Aston Villa, City and Liverpool. Scary stuff.
Tom Ince and Joe Ledley both scored in their last comfortable victory over West Brom. Their performance, along with Scott Dann, should earn them another start.
Probable line-up: Speroni – Ward, Dann, Delaney, Ledley – Puncheon, Jedinak, Digkacoi, Bolasie – Ince – Chamakh.
In every new round of Premier League games the same headline peeking: is this it for United, will this be the u-turn moment when everything is awaiting for? Now that hailing the title is still a possibility became, well, ridiculous, the motivational speech shifted to the Champions League prospects. I understand David Moyes needs this light at the end of the tunnel, something like the horizon you can use as guidance but it’s just empty. No real consistent changes occurred at Old Trafford and one swallow does not make a summer. Buying Mata wasn’t enough, the Scott would have to by a whole new flock. And he finally does, because he will have to, in the summer, if he is still in Manchester, here’s a wild thought: play them at their rightful places!
Apparently United staff’s way of dealing with hardship is go to warmer, sunnier sights. Cold, damp and accountability never helped in a depressive state that’s for sure. And when the defending Champions are 7th, 15 behind the leaders and 11 adrift from the spot that grants access to the European competitions, your bound to feel blue. And if think about the 2 points gathered in 9 possible, you desperately need a break.
Let’s hope it worked for them. Man United need to convey some scrapes of pride, drive and will power to get through this final run. Don’t forget on Tuesday they’ll visit Olympiakos for the first leg of Champions League. And them West Brom, Liverpool, Olympiakos again, West Ham and Manchester City cross their path, all in a month’s time. Red Devils, time to men up!
Nani and Jonny Evans continue unavailable for David Moyes. Phil Jones is doubtful.
Probable line-up: De Gea – Rafael, Smalling, Vidic, Evra – Cleverly, Carrick – Mata, Rooney, Januzaj – Van Persie.
United only succeeded in two of their last six outings. Since Pulis arrived at Selhurst Park the Eagles were only defeat once in their home ground. The reverse fixture ended in a 2-0 win for Manchester United, one of the goals resulted from a controversial penalty over Ashley Young.