Manchester United continue their push for a place in next season’s Champions League on Thursday night with a visit to Crystal Palace.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw his side concede a last-minute equaliser against Southampton at Old Trafford last time out, a result that keeps the Red Devils just outside the top four. Securing a spot in the coveted qualifications spots is still in their hands, however, with a final day trip to fourth placed Leicester in store.
But the race coud be over by then if the 20-time top flight champions don’t take care of Crystal Palace and West Ham before their trip to the Midlands.
Palace, meanwhile, have slumped back into mid-table mediocrity, and have nothing to play for between now and the end of the season. The Eagles would like to score some goals, though, as they have been extremely hard to come by this season.
Here’s 90min‘s preview of the game.
When Is Kick Off? Thursday 16 July
What Time Is Kick Off? 20:15 (BST)
Where Is it Being Played? Selhurst Park
TV Channel/Live Stream: BT Sport (UK), fuboTV (US)
Christian Benteke will miss the remainder of the season for the hosts after seeing red against Aston Villa. The Belgian was dismissed after the final whistle for kicking out at an opponent and will consequently serve a three-match ban.
Gary Cahill, Jeffrey Schlupp and James Tomkins are also ruled out for the Eagles, the former ruled out for the remainder of the campaign after hurting himself against former club Chelsea.
Manchester United may have a problem at left-back for their trip to the capital.
First-choice Luke Shaw had to be substituted for 19-year-old Brandon Williams after twisting his ankle against the Saints, but his youthful replacement suffered a nasty head injury of his own after clashing with Kyle Walker-Peters.
That could leave the door open to versatile full-back Diogo Dalot, who has barely featured for the Red Devils of late. United will need to field a full-strength team otherwise, as they can’t run the risk of dropping points despite the fixture congestion.
Crystal Palace: Guaita; Ward, Dann, Sakho, van Aanholt; Milivojevic, McCarthy, Kouyate; Zaha, Townsend, Ayew
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Dalot; Matic, Pogba, Fernandes; Rashford, Greenwood, Martial
Crystal Palace have lost their last five matches after a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth upon football’s resumption all-but secured their Premier League status for another year.
The Eagles did put in a decent performance against Chelsea in their last home game, however, narrowly losing out 3-2 after dominating for large periods of the game. An 11th place finish is still in reach, if Palace buck up their ideas.
United, meanwhile, are now 18 games unbeaten in all competitions. The impressive streak has seen them net 48 goals, seeing off high calibre opponents Manchester City, Chelsea and Sheffield United along the way.
The January signing of Bruno Fernandes, coupled with the emergence of Mason Greenwood alongside Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, means they’re now only behind Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes on goal difference and have Champions League football firmly in their sights.
Here’s a look at each sides’ last five outings.
Aston Villa 2-0 Crystal Palace (12/07)
Crystal Palace 2-3 Chelsea (07/07)
Leicester 3-0 Crystal Palace (04/07)
Crystal Palace 0-1 Burnley (29/06)
Liverpool 4-0 Crystal Palace (24/06)
Manchester United 2-2 Southampton (13/07)
Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United (09/07)
Manchester United 5-2 Bournemouth (04/07)
Brighton 0-3 Manchester United (30/06)
Norwich 1-2 Manchester United (AET) (27/06)
With Palace appearing to struggle for motivation and United having everything to play for, it would be a shock to see any other outcome than a victory for the Red Devils.
The south London club are always a threat though, especially at home. and Wilfried Zaha should need no encouragement against his former team.
Nevertheless, with so much at stake for Solskjaer’s men and the form of their devastating front-three, United should romp to another much-needed victory.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-3 Manchester United