After a frenetic end to what was a spectacular last few hours of transfer window and International friendlies, premier league action is back with the defending champions Manchester United hosting the newly promoted side Crystal Palace. Both the teams are separated just by a single point in the league; although Manchester United are miles apart in class and quality, at least on paper. Adding to this, the unavailability of Crystal Palace’s manager on the sidelines, it appears to be a daunting task at their hands going into this fixture.
David Moyes is still looking for a win at Old Trafford and one cannot throw in any other match unlike tomorrow’s scale for him to open his account in front of the home crowd. With a mixed bag of results in Manchester United’s new era & a summer of poor transfer business, the pressure was evident on David Moyes to stamp his authority. This saw Manchester United spilling out huge money on the Belgian Maroune Fellaini, a player deemed as the man who could finally solve the midfield crisis & as a last gasp effort to salvage and galvanize the current squad, fans alike. The lack of a decisive pass in the final third was the prime reason for the defending champions being held to a draw & defeat against Chelsea and Liverpool respectively. Moyes was certainly at fault at times with his bizarre team selection by entirely omitting the Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa who just could have opened the defense with that decisive pass, from behind the striker. The equally clueless Manchester United fans will only hope that Moyes has learnt from his mistakes and gives the Japanese playmaker the much deserved game time.
With Rooney’s absence tomorrow due to injury and decisive games coming up over the next two weeks, tomorrow’s fixture would be the ideal time to experiment with this midfield and test the squad depth, where Moyes has the chance of fielding in Zaha, a former crystal palace player. United’s defense has looked solid and disciplined, having just beaten by a clever & brilliant Sturridge goal at Anfield. With host of options & in-form wingers like Nani, Valencia and Zaha available, in addition to two key players in Kagawa and Fellaini, Manchester United’s strike force can only be assured of many chances to score tomorrow.
With their boss, Ian Holloway being handed a 2-match ban for ranting about the referee Mark Clattenburg after their first game against Tottenham, confidence from a 3-1 victory at home against a hapless Sunderland should be their defining moment to catapult their assault in tomorrow’s fixture. In addition to this, they should take confidence from their opponents mental frame of mind knowing that Manchester United are under tremendous pressure to score, having suffered a frustrating defeat against Liverpool away from home. Their current team with a host of new players needs more time to gel together and are being framed as the “lambs for slaughter” tomorrow. But it could very well work out on their favor just when they were billed with the same metaphor 2yrs ago, when they triumphed 2-1 at Old Trafford over a second string Manchester United side in Carling cup.
If Ian Holloway had done his homework and communicated it to his team, then they would know that the key to unlocking the solid Manchester United defense lies in frustrating Van Persie & Co. in front of goal by cutting down the passes and attacking Manchester united on the counter – a feat that Liverpool carried out with immense discipline and consistency throughout the 90 minutes. While expecting the same level of discipline is another daunting task from Crystal Palace, you never know until the game is over.
Manchester United: With a period of key fixtures coming up for Manchester United in the form of Champions league tie in the mid-week and a Manchester derby next weekend, we can expect changes in various departments from Moyes. Kagawa might finally get a game with Rooney’s absence and the new summer recruit Maroune Fellaini, who was brought in to solve the midfield crisis might start from the bench. Phil Jones, Rafael and Rooney are the players currently injured.
Crystal Palace: Easily the 2nd (or) 3rd worst hit side with Injuries after Arsenal & Liverpool currently, Ian Holloway must contend with a clutch of injuries to Paddy McCarthy, Yannick Bolasie, Jerome Thomas, Glenn Murray and their new signing Jack Hunt breaking his ankle earlier this week in training.
Says David Moyes on Fellaini, “Not many people knew off him when he first arrived at Everton, but he never let us down & continued to improve. He’s experienced in Premier League, can play in different positions, score goals & defend. He would definitely strengthen our Central Midfield and will provide Manchester United with a lot of options especially with a lot of games coming up. Fellaini is a guy who will continue to improve both himself and the squad, especially being a player who desperately wanted to join Manchester United!”
Says Ian Holloway on this fixture, “Palace beat Man United in the cup two years ago, I watched it on television. Can we go there and do it again? All I want is a performance. Let’s see what we can do.”
- Manchester United & Crystal Palace face each other for the first time in Premier League after 8yrs & 6months since 2005
- Manchester United for the first time since 2007 have failed to score a goal in successive league matches
- Middlesbrough in 1998/99 were the newly promoted team to have beaten Manchester United last
- Manchester United’s new recruit Maroune Fellaini won 151 compared to the entire Manchester United midfield with 94 aerial challenges last season
- Crystal Palace have just taken 25 points in the last 24 away games
- Crystal Palace have not defeated Manchester United at Old Trafford since 1989, where they triumphed 2-1 in the pre-premier league era
- Danny Gabbidon for the Eagles with his 1st premier league goal in last match, now has scored goals in all 4 divisions of English Football
- Crystal Palace have picked up 3 points from 3 games while they picked up only 1 point from 3 games, last time they were promoted
Playing Manchester United at home is a daunting task for any team; as even Mourinho had found out against this current United side about 2 weeks ago on his 2nd return. Add injuries and manager suspension into the equation, a positive result for Crystal Palace looks very bleak.
Manchester United 3 – 0 Crystal Palace