With three games to go, this Thursday night clash at Selhurst Park is a must-win for Manchester United as the race for top 4 is on, whilst Crystal Palace are safe from relegation and too far adrift from Europa League qualification hopes.
After a disappointing 2-2 draw against Southampton on Monday night following a 96th-minute equaliser from Michael Obafemi, Man United remained in 5th place, despite flaunting an eighteen-game unbeaten run. They are level on points with Leicester City, behind on goal difference, and four points behind Chelsea – who they face on Sunday in the FA Cup Semi-Final.
After the recent news that rivals Man City will be able to qualify for the Champions League, finishing in the top 4 is essential for United, and with the poor form of Leicester since the lockdown, there is an opportunity for this to be accomplished.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not settle for anything less than three points against this Palace side who have amassed only three points from a possible eighteen since the restart – a miserable period for Roy Hodgson’s side.
The Eagles have the opportunity to get the double over United on Thursday night, and this might give them something to play for. A Daniel James strike in the 89th minute seemed to be enough to share the points, however, left-back Patrick van Aanholt ensured the three points were taken back to London after his 93rd-minute winner. This was Palace’s first league victory over United since 1991.
Palace will be without target-man Christian Benteke following his dismissal against Aston Villa, which may see Jordan Ayew step into the central role. Meanwhile, defender Martin Kelly is hoping for a start after returning from injury.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was handed a double blow at left-back against Southampton, after Luke Shaw (ankle) and substitute Brandon Williams (head) both picked up nasty-looking injuries. In other areas, there are no new injuries, and it is down to Solskjaer whether he wants a change-up following the intense period of games recently – with Scott McTominay, Daniel James and Fred all eager for a start.
I think Man United will get back to winning ways against Crystal Palace, particularly as the Reds need a win and Hodgson’s men do not have much to play for.
Match Preview written by Seb Rowland