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    Crystal Palace v Manchester United Preview


    Crystal Palace v Manchester United Preview

    By Scott Hunt
    @scotthunt92

    Debate has raged this week about Manchester United’s recent performances and they travel to Selhurst Park on Saturday to face a side with attacking issues of their own.

    United legend Paul Scholes and current boss Louis van Gaal have become engaged in something of a public slanging match over their style of play off the back of two straight goalless draws. But Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew may be pleased that the focus on their opponents has taken attention away from their own shortcomings.

    The Eagles have lost four of their last six league games and have been beaten in six of their last nine home games in the league. Much of the problem lies in their forward play – with their strikers yet to contribute a single goal this season.

    Pardew acknowledged the problem with their attacking play, suggesting Patrick Bamford may get his chance, while believing they will need to be patient against Manchester United.

    “Attack is an area that we need to improve on,” Pardew told his press conference.

    Patrick offers us movement up top and down the sides, but if we haven't got the ball then it's difficult.

    “I've told him he has to work hard and he has been. I'm very pleased with his application. He's got mentally and physically stronger.

    “He just has to add a bit more to his game, as a young player. We're a tough team to break into.

    “United's long spells of possession could threaten to drive the atmosphere into a lull, but we need to keep the fans singing along.

    “More often than not they win and that's why they're up the top of the league. We respect what they do.

    “United average 59% possession. So we have to be patient and so do our fans. We'll need to wait for our chance.”

    Despite the recent criticism of United, they have lost just one of their last six league games and have the joint best defensive record in the league having conceded just eight goals. They are also unbeaten in their last 14 meetings with Palace, winning 12, and the last time the Eagles beat United in the league was 1991.

    Palace have the second worst home record in the league in 2015 and have kept just two clean sheets in their last 21 Premier League games at Selhurst Park. 

    With two misfiring attacking units coming together, the smart money might normally be on a low-scoring draw, but Palace haven’t shared the spoils for 23 league games. Both sets of players have a point to prove and will want to dampen recent talk of their below-par performances. If Palace can’t rectify their woeful home record, Van Gaal’s United could get three points in their pursuit of neighbours Manchester City at the top of the table.


    Key Men

    Wilfried Zaha will be hopeful of getting the nod to start against his old side and will be desperate to show what United missed out on. Zaha is one man who Pardew will want relieve the pressure on his main striker and contribute goals and assists from the wide areas. The England international has shown his ability in flashes this season, but Palace will be hopeful of more consistent showings in the weeks ahead.

    Wayne Rooney is set to play his 350th Premier League for the Red Devils and is one man under pressure to perform much better than in his recent outings. The captain is failing to deliver goals or any attacking threat, being undermined by disastrous control and a wayward passing radar. He needs one more to pull level with Denis Law in the all-time Manchester United goalscoring charts and it would come as a relief to everyone at Old Trafford if he could grab that goal at Selhurst Park.



    Team News

    Crucial midfield playmaker Yohan Cabaye is a doubt for Palace after missing the Capital One Cup clash against Manchester City in midweek. Strike pairing Connor Wickham and Marouane Chamakh are both still out injured, leaving Palace to choose between Fraizer Campbell, Patrick Bamford and the returning Dwight Gayle up front. Jason Puncheon is available but Joel Ward and Pape Souare are doubts.

    Injuries sustained in the Capital One Cup defeat to Middlesbrough by Memphis Depay and James Wilson have ruled them out of this fixture while Antonio Valencia and Paddy McNair are also sidelined. Ashley Young is available after playing in midweek.


    Prediction

    Crystal Palace 0-1 Manchester United


    Image Source: Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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