Last weekend provided some disappointment for both United and Crystal Palace, as they failed to match or improve on their respective opening day feats.
Roy Hodgson has almost 35 years of managerial experience on Ole Gunnar Solskjær, although the Norweigan will likely be the more confident boss here.
A rare Saturday 3pm kick-off looms at Old Trafford this Bank Holiday weekend.
Kick-off: 15:00 [GMT]
Venue: Old Trafford
Referee: Paul Tierney
Return fixture: 2/5/20Embed from Getty Images
Recent form: DL
Previous result: Sheffield United 0-0 Crystal PalaceEmbed from Getty Images
Having started the season in scuppering fashion, scoring no goals and losing to a newly-promoted side last weekend, Hodgson has arguably never been under as much pressure to pull another trick from up his sleeve.
The Wilfried Zaha saga meant squad morale to a significant hit heading into their 0-0 opener against potential buyers Everton at Selhurst Park.
A rigid 4-4-2 has once again been employed by Hodgson, with Max Meyer and Andros Townsend being relied on out wide for creativity either side of skipper Luka Milivojević and James McArthur sitting in the centre of midfield.
Summer signings Gary Cahill and James McCarthy are yet to start but the visit to Old Trafford may prompt a slightly more conservative approach. Also, Deadline Day signing Victor Camarasa shone for Palace’s U23s in midweek and is yet to feature in the first team, so could earn a first start.
Sparse recruitment was not the only negative in the transfer window, as Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s departure to United recouped £50m, but not a replacement.
Michy Batshuayi returned to Chelsea following his loan spell, as The Eagles currently lack a natural goalscorer. Christian Benteke, Jordan Ayew, and Connor Wickham are the remaining striking options, who scored a combined total of two goals in the Premier League last campaign.
Hodgson was further frustrated about the Bramall Lane defeat when Patrick van Aanholt claimed that ‘Sheffield United wanted it more’ on his Twitter, prompting the 72-year-old to ask the Dutch defender to explain his claim.
One to watch
With no disrespect to Palace’s talented group, Zaha is the obvious candidate for this Saturday.
A reported transfer request on Deadline Day after a summer of speculation has left a sour taste back down at Selhurst Park as the Ivory Coast international remains in Croydon.
Zaha’s 10 strikes almost made up 20% of Palace’s total league strikes last term, with Milivojević’s penalties also making up a significant chunk to steady them to a solid 12th place.
Likely to play either as a wide forward or as one of two strikes, the 26-year-old will be eager to prove himself against his former club.Embed from Getty Images
Injuries/suspensions (estimated return)
- Cheikhou Kouyaté – general fitness (day to day)
- Mamadou Sakho – knee (gym work)
- James Tomkins – groin (a few weeks)
(4-3-3) Guaita; Ward, Cahill, Dann, van Aanholt; McArthur, Milivojević, McCarthy; Townsend, Benteke, Zaha
Quote from the boss
“We were actually looking over our shoulders for a long time. I don’t think unless we can start scoring goals, we can say that we certainly won’t be in any danger.” – Roy Hodgson
Next match: Colchester United [H] 27/8/19 – Carabao CupEmbed from Getty Images
THE RED DEVILS
In isolation, it may seem like a decent point, but Paul Pogba’s penalty miss in the 68th meant it was yet another disappointing night at Molineux under Solskjær for United.
Anthony Martial had opened the scoring with his 50th goal for the club, but his compatriot went from good to bad when he excellently penalty, and then missed the rebound.Embed from Getty Images
The miss, sadly unsurprisingly, led to Pogba being racially abused on Twitter. Since then, the club have released a statement and it is believed they will meet with the social media giant to discuss preventing such behaviour on the platform.
Many players including Marcus Rashford have condemned any racism aimed towards United, with the #AllRedAllEqual hashtag once again being prominent to counter the hatred.
A recent behind-closed-doors game against Sheffield United has been spoken about in the press since it took place on Tuesday, with one notable story breaking that Andreas Pereira volunteered to play in the friendly.
Until the Europa League group stage gets underway on Thursday 19th September, the Red Devils’ sizeable squad needs to be topped-up with minutes as Pereira, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood scored in the 3-1 win.
According to the Manchester Evening News, the full international-heavy starting XI, which cost United £130.8m, was: Romero; Dalot, Smalling, Jones, Darmian; Pereira, Matić; Mata, Gomes, Sánchez; Greenwood. James Garner is also believed to have featured.Embed from Getty Images
The boss watched most of the game at Carrington, as Pereira impressed to give Solskjær’s pre-season quote that he ‘expects a lot more games’ from the Brazilian further relevance.
After missing out on both matchday squads in the opening two games, Diogo Dalot will now be sidelined for around a month with a problem that has been an issue for ‘a couple of weeks’ according to his boss.Embed from Getty Images
In his pre-match press conference, Solskjær confirmed that there are ‘still talks with some clubs’ for Alexis Sánchez’s services, while the Chilean is ‘working hard’ to regain his fitness.
Also on Friday morning, the manager said he ‘just cannot believe’ cases of racism are still having to be dealt with in 2019. Further to that, he said: ‘It’s natural for them [squad supporting each other], they’re a team, we talk about team spirit, it’s natural for us as human beings and teammates we look after each other and you won’t see any of ours criticise each other in social media or in the media.’Embed from Getty Images
Wan-Bissaka is set to start, and recently reassured supporters – after going four days without seeing a tackle on a football pitch from him – as he told the club’s website: ‘I love tackles, man. I want to come out with the most tackles from each game; that’s my aim. I’m not really happy when I come out of a game without many tackles.’
With the same backline expected to start in front of captain David De Gea for the third game running, there may well be some changes going forward.
Daniel James started at Molineux but failed to make a real impact, so either Juan Mata or Pereira could return to the starting XI.
Fred and Nemanja Matić are both yet to play a minute in the Premier League so far, making them fresh options for Solskjær’s midfield.
Injuries/suspensions (estimated return)
- Eric Bailly – knee (four months)
- Diogo Dalot – unknown (four weeks)
- Lee Grant – knock (unknown)
- Timothy Fosu-Mensah – knee (gym work)
- Alexis Sánchez – general fitness (back in training)
(4-2-3-1) De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelöf, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Pogba; James, Mata, Rashford; Martial
Quote from the boss
“The team spirit is great, we’ve got loads of energy and passion. Everyone’s fit and when you’re physically fit it’s easier to be mentally strong as well.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Next match: Southampton [A] 31/8/19Embed from Getty Images
POTENTIAL KEY BATTLES
– Anthony Martial vs Gary Cahill
– Daniel James vs Patrick van Aanholt
– Victor Lindelöf vs Wilfried Zaha
MATCH FACTS [FotMob]
- United are unbeaten in their last 22 league games against Palace (W18 D4) since a 0-3 defeat at Selhurst Park in May 1991
- Palace are winless in their last 12 away league visits to Old Trafford to face United (D1 L11) since a 2-1 victory in December 1989
- The Red Devils have lost two of their last four Premier League home games (W1 D1), with those two defeats are as many as they lost in their previous 27 at Old Trafford in the Premier League (W18 D7 L2)
- The Eagles have won just two of their last 20 Premier League games against ‘big six’ opposition (W2 D3 L15), although those two victories came away from home, beating Man City in December 2018 and Arsenal in April 2019
- London sides have won just 16 of their 152 Premier League games at Old Trafford, the lowest win rate for clubs from the capital at an away ground in the competition (11%)
Enjoy the match!