Having recorded yet another narrow win to remain in the hunt for the final Champions League berth, Manchester United will be looking to place extra pressure on their top 4 rivals by defeating Crystal Palace. The Eagles all but secured Premiership survival by holding Arsenal to a 1-1 draw, and they head to Old Trafford without any pressure.
This can be seen as a good transition season for Manchester United, who may have failed to meet pre-season objectives, but, nonetheless, created a good base for the future. Chances are that Louis van Gaal will not be given the opportunity to finish the job at Old Trafford, meaning that someone else, probably Jose Mourinho, will profit from the likes of Marcus Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Jesse Lingard and Paddy McNair gaining valuable first team experience this term. The reality is that the Red Devils have been far from impressive this season, but they have shown a serious improvement at the back and also appear to have become masters of grinding out results. Man Utd have now won four of last five games on all fronts, with each of those victories recorded by a single-goal margin. The away wins over Man City (Premier League) and West Ham (FA Cup) must have improved the dressing room atmosphere, but narrow triumphs over Everton and Aston Villa at Old Trafford are enough to suggest their home performances still leave something to be desired. However, with Man Utd unbeaten in last eight home games (W6 D2), they have every right to be feeling optimistic ahead of the clash with Crystal Palace.
Having impressed on his first start since returning from injury, Wayne Rooney should keep his place in the starting line-up.
There have been no fresh selection worries for Louis van Gaal, but Ander Herrera is available and the likes of Martial, Fosu-Mensah and Lingard should be recalled.
What resembled a very promising season quickly turned into a major disappointment for Crystal Palace, who were even in danger of getting relegated at one point, but the Eagles eventually managed to turn things around. Alan Pardew’s men ended a 14-match winless run in the league in just the right time as they defeated relegation-threatened Norwich City to create a nice daylight between themselves and the bottom three, and it is clear that said win served as a major confidence boost. The Eagles have since shared spoils with Everton and Arsenal, climbing to within one point of the 40-point mark with four games to go. There have been even more reason for celebration of late as Crystal Palace defied the odds to reach the FA Cup semi-finals, where they will be vying out-of-sorts Watford for a place in the final. This is why the Eagles may not be at full strength at Old Trafford, with Alan Pardew widely expected to rest his key men against Manchester United.
Important defender Scott Dann should be available after recovering from a foot injury, but Alan Pardew is without four first team footballers.
The likes of Dwight Gayle, Marouane Chamakh, James McArthur and Brede Hangeland are all unavailable through injury.
Key Factors to Consider
- Man Utd won six of last nine matches vs Crystal Palace
- The Red Devils won all three meetings at Old Trafford
- Man Utd recorded four narrow wins in last five games
- The Red Devils won 8 of last 11 home fixtures (D2 L1)
- Palace are winless in last eight league matches on the road (D5 L3)
Manchester United have shown a great deal of consistency of late and having won four of last five fixtures, they can be trusted to see off what should be under-strength Crystal Palace as well. Having all but secured Premier League survival, the Eagles will have one eye on weekend’s FA Cup clash against Watford.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 4/7
Bookmaker: William Hill