Manchester United head to the capital midweek to face Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace, hoping to extend their unbeaten run of eight matches and make it three wins within a week. The Reds returned to winning ways in the Premier League at the weekend with an impressive performance in the 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford following three successive league draws. Mourinho’s men have only lost twice in the last 18 outings in all competitions however too many draws have seen them fall well off the pace in the hunt for the top four, let alone a title push.
Crystal Palace, on the other hand have their own problems. Fifteenth in the league with as many points, the Eagles have only managed four wins in the league, one of which came in their last home game against Southampton. Their last three league matches have seen an astonishing 18 goals been scored. They first lost a nine goal thriller against Swansea City in the dying minutes despite leading going into injury time at the back-end of last month before seeing off Southampton 3-0 and drew 3-3 with fellow strugglers Hull City at the weekend. The hosts have a few players who used to represent the Reds earlier in their careers, let’s take a look at a few things that connect the two clubs.
2016 FA Cup Final
The meeting on Wednesday evening is the first time the teams have met since the FA Cup final earlier this year. United came out on top with Jesse Lingard grabbing the deciding goal in extra-time. The Reds dominated the match but fell behind with just over ten minutes to go as Jason Puncheon fired the Eagles ahead. It was harsh on United but they were level just three minutes later when Juan Mata leveled proceedings. The game went to extra time and when Chris Smalling got his marching orders for a second bookable offence it looked like curtains for United but Lingard’s stunning strike earned the Reds their first FA Cup triumph since 2004. It turned out to be Louis van Gaal’s final game in charge of United as Jose Mourinho took over just a few days later.
The Former United man is enjoying his second stint at Selhurst Park following a short cameo at Old Trafford from 2013 to 2015 where he failed to break into the first team. Zaha actually has the accolade of being the last ever player signed for United by legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson. After making just four appearances for the Reds over two years, he rejoined Palace in the winter transfer window of 2015 where he became an instant regular. He is finally showing the promise this season that got him his Old Trafford move, he’s been involved in seven goals in Palace’s last seven league outings (two goals, five assists).
Palace’s last-minute hero from their 3-3 draw against Hull City at the weekend was ex United man Fraizer Campbell. Born in Huddersfield, Campbell came through the United ranks as a youngster however only managed four appearances in all competitions for the first team, without finding the net. Loan spells at Royal Antwerp, Hull City and Tottenham Hotspur saw him depart Old Trafford for Sunderland in 2009. He joined the Eagles via a spell at Cardiff where he has found the net eight times in 40 appearances.
The prolific Frenchman has never played for Crystal Palace, but he does has some history with the club. On the 25th January 1995, the defending Premier League champions were in second place in the league, trailing Blackburn Rovers by two points. The Reds would visit Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park to try and become the league leaders, something which they failed to do as the score was 1-1 at full-time. Cantona was far from prolific that day, not as a football player, but someone who is widely celebrated for what he did. Early in the second half, Cantona who had a short fuse, erupted kung-fu kicking Palace fan Matthew Simmons in the stands after the player received a straight red card three minutes into the second half. Cantona was banned from football, sitting out the remainder of the season and much of the start of the following season, only to retire from the game in 1997 with his famous number seven shirt being handed to David Beckham.