With the 10 match campaign milestone hit in midweek with a convincing win in Russia, a final Premier League match prior to an International break awaits; against Crystal Palace. It’s certainly contrasting starts to the season for both clubs, so the bookies will have their favourites for this one clear.
Roy Hodgson has had only two league matches at the helm after he took over the disappointing Frank De Boer as boss. Those were a narrow defeat at home to Southampton and a huge defeat away to Manchester City. However, a win between them in the EFL Cup over Huddersfield 1-0 has ensured that. Their only other win was in that competition too. Palace are the only team left in the league to not score a goal or gain a point. Dutch loanee from United, Timothy Fosu-Mensah is ineligible to play. The versatile defensive youngster has started well for the Eagles & I will be mostly likely missed. Also missing for Hodgson’s side, are forward Christian Benteke, Connor Wickham and former United man Wilfried Zaha. It’s expected that their 4-2-3-1 system will again be used and Ruben Loftus-Cheek has shown some quality in the ‘number 10’ role as of late. Patrick van Aanholt at left-back, Yohan Cabaye in midfield, and Andros Townsend out wide all have skill sets that, if utilised well enough, could be cause for alarm for José Mourinho’s side. The two teams last met on the final day last season with two youngster-laden sides; as United ran out clear winners. Breaking records not to be desired almost every weekend, the Glaziers really need to get something this time out and there would be no better place to get it than at Old Trafford.
For the men who have had success at Old Trafford this season, just conceding a single goal as well as winning each game, it looks and absolutely fantastic opportunity to go into the break and before a big clash at Anfield loaded with confidence. This time last year, United stuttered in their first dominant home draw – also before a match at Anfield post-International matches. The name on everyone’s lips, probably because people are tired of discussing Romelu Lukaku’s goalscoring form, Anthony Martial, is in-line for a start. He’s bagged a goal or an assist every 35 minted thus far and is starting to show the desire and potential he has inside of him. He may also be keen to show his national team what they’re missing, as he has not been called up for this set of integral fixtures.
Marouane Fellaini remains out and fellow middle of the park man Paul Pogba is now classed as someone with a ‘long-term’ injury along with Marcos Rojo & Zlatan Ibrahimović by Mourinho. Luke Shaw may find himself getting a start with Ashley Young & Daley Blind starting the last few matches. Antonio Valencia is likely to be included in the team too but Phil Jones will miss the match through injury. Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelöf, or even Daley Blind in the centre of defence could allow Matteo Darmian to come in. Nemanja Matić should be joined by Ander Herrera in midfield with Michael Carrick having ‘no chance’ according to Mourinho. In addition, the reds should revert back to their 4-2-3-1 formation which would match their opponents however, the 3-5-2 was indeed successful midweek. The referee for this second consecutive Saturday 3pm kick-off – an obscurity for United in recent times – will be the now infamous and no nonsense Mike Dean.
Both clubs will be eager to go into their breaks with confidence before a tricky set of fixtures following the International break respectively. Players of numerous countries from both clubs may have career-defining games to play next week but for now, it’s an intriguing Premier League fixture.