Opposition guide: Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace lie in wait for Manchester United at Selhurst Park on Thursday night, as the Premier League campaign enters its final 10 days.
With the race for the top-four hotting up, three points are vital for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, while Roy Hodgson will be hoping that his men – lying safe in 14th place – can overturn a recent dip in form which has seen them lose each of their last five.
Here’s everything you need to know about Palace before Thursday’s crunch game, starting with which players have been ruled out…
Crystal Palace forward Christian Benteke will definitely missThursday’s match - he was sent off shortly after the final whistle blew on the Eagles’ defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday and will now serve a suspension. Central defender Gary Cahill, who has been integral to Palace since joining from Chelsea in the summer, looks doubtful with a thigh injury picked up against his former club, while James Tomkins (thigh) is still out after getting injured during the three-month-long lockdown period. Jeffrey Schlupp is in line for a return though, after not featuring since the restart.
“The doctors and medical people are wary, once again, having been out of football for a long time, how many minutes he [Schlupp] could safely play,” said Hodgson.
“But it’s very good to have him available at least and he himself feels good and would be very happy to play the number of minutes I feel I could give him.”
Palace virtually secured Premier League survival with three wins on the bounce prior to lockdown, and continued their good form with a 2-0 victory at Bournemouth in their first game back after the restart. Since then, however, the Eagles have lost five on the spin – four of them without scoring a goal. Last time out, Hodgson’s side were beaten at relegation-threatened Aston Villa, courtesy of a double from Egyptian winger Trezeguet. They currently sit 14th in the Premier League table, with 11 wins, 9 draws and 15 defeats adding up to a total of 42 points. Although Palace have scored the fewest goals in the league (30) aside from already-relegated Norwich City, they have the best defensive record of any side in the bottom half, and have conceded fewer goals than third-placed Chelsea (45 to 49).
OUR RECORD V PALACE
United traditionally have a very good record against Crystal Palace – August’s defeat at Old Trafford was the first time we’d lost to the Londoners in the top-flight during the Premier League era. We’ve emerged victorious on each of our last three visits to Selhurst Park, with a Romelu Lukaku double helping us to a 3-1 win on our last venture to south London, in February 2019. The season before that, the Reds staged an improbable comeback from two goals down to win 3-2, with Nemanja Matic netting a stunning injury-time winner.
Our epic comeback at Palace in 2018Video
Former England boss Hodgson is the oldest manager in the history of the Premier League – the 72-year-old began his coaching career at Sweden's Halmstad, in 1976, when Ole was just three! Hodgson, who has also managed Blackburn, Fulham, Liverpool and West Brom in England, has a highly impressive resume from almost half a century of coaching, although Palace’s 2-1 win over the Reds at the beginning of the season was only the third time he’d taken all three points from a fixture against United. The previous two occasions were during his three-year tenure at Craven Cottage, during which Hodgson guided the capital outfit to the 2010 Europa League final.
ONES TO WATCH
Mercurial winger Wilfried Zaha – once with the Reds, of course – remains Palace’s main attacking threat, even after having a relatively quiet season, by his high standards. The Ivorian’s stunning goal against Chelsea last week was his first since December, and only his fourth of the campaign, although he is statistically the league’s most dangerous dribbler, having taken the ball past a league-high 163 players. Patrick van Aanholt, scorer of Palace’s winner at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture, is always someone to be aware of with his buccaneering runs down the left, while Jordan Ayew is the Eagles’ leading goalscorer, with nine – including efforts against United and Arsenal.