Chris Smalling has called for a response from Manchester United as they look to stay in touch with the Premier League leaders when they travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday.
United failed to score for the second successive game on Wednesday as Middlesbrough sent Louis van Gaal’s men out of the League Cup in the fourth round.
The 3-1 penalty-shootout defeat came after 120 minutes of goalless action at Old Trafford, three days after another stalemate with fierce rivals Manchester City in the league last weekend.
And Smalling sees this weekend’s trip to Selhurst Park – where United have not lost to Palace in their last seven meetings – as the perfect opportunity to get back to scoring ways.
“We had quite a lot of chances but it just didn’t break our way,” Smalling told MUTV after their cup exit.
“I think we’ll take the disappointment but we need to turn our attentions immediately to Saturday, because it’s another big game, an away game, and we need a response.”
Victory for United – who are still without Paddy McNair (abdomen) and Luke Shaw (broken leg) – would ensure they do not slip further than two points behind the leading duo of City and Arsenal.
Palace were also knocked out of the League Cup on Wednesday but their exit was much more comprehensive than United’s as Alan Pardew’s side were soundly thrashed 5-1 by Manchester City.
That defeat was the third in a row for Palace in all competitions, and ending that run will not be easy against a United side who have taken all six points from Palace in each of the last two seasons and have never lost in their 12 Premier League meetings.
Pardew was without playmaker Yohan Cabaye and attacking midfielder Jason Puncheon for the defeat against City, and he hopes to have them – and some more striking options – back for United’s visit.
“We now get ourselves focused on the game on Saturday and need to make sure we get a few bodies back for the game,” he told the club’s official website. “We need to put our strongest team out against them.
“We have some problems with a few as Jason Puncheon has been ill and Yohan Cabaye has a knock but fingers crossed they will be back for the weekend.
“Connor Wickham and Marouane Chamakh are training plus we have our fingers crossed for Pape Souare being back on Saturday.”
Key Opta stats:
– Crystal Palace have never won a Premier League game against Manchester United, drawing two and losing 10 (including each of the last four).
– Palace last tasted victory against Manchester United in league competition back in May 1991; courtesy of a 3-0 home win on the last day of the season.
– Crystal Palace have lost four of their last six Premier League games, netting a total of just four goals in the process.
– Three of the four goals that Palace have scored in their last six Premier League games have been a Yohan Cabaye penalty.
– Louis van Gaal’s charges have lost just one of their last six league games (W4 D1 L1), keeping three clean sheets in the process.
– Spanish schemer Juan Mata scored in both of Manchester United’s Premier League games against Crystal Palace last season.
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