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How Manchester United could look against Crystal Palace; Solskjaer forced into making changes? Martial, Rashford, Fernandes, Greenwood and Pogba still likely to start

Manchester United are back on the road on Thursday evening as they face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the Premier League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be looking to bounce back from that devastating draw against Southampton at Old Trafford on Monday evening. Roy Hodgson’s side will be looking to recover from losing their last five matches in the league, which will be hard for them.

United could have leapfrogged both Leicester City and Chelsea to rise into third in the Premier League table on Monday evening, but will now be waiting to see what Chelsea can do against already relegated Norwich City on Tuesday evening. Leicester will face Sheffield United before United kick a ball on Thursday, so the Blades could do them another favour in their own chase for European football next season.

How United have faired against Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

United and Palace have played 21 times in the Premier League with United winning 16, drawing four and losing once. United have scored 41 goals conceding 10. United have kept 14 clean sheets with Palace keeping three. United have won four penalties, scoring three, with Palace winning none. In total, United have 29 yellow cards Palace have 35 with United having one red card to Palace’s two.

Earlier this season at Old Trafford, United fell to a 2-1 defeat after Jordan Ayew opened the scoring in the 32nd minute of the match with Daniel James scoring the equaliser in the 89th minute. In stoppage time, Patrick van Aanholt scored the winner for Palace. A gutting defeat for United who were not at the best of their game. Last season in this fixture, United won 3-1 with a brace from Romelu Lukaku and a goal from Ashley Young.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Crystal Palace in the Premier League at Selhurst Park on Thursday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish number one conceded twice against Southampton, which is not what United needed and it will be something that he remembers from his landmark 400th match as United’s goalkeeper. He’s kept 11 clean sheets so far this season and is three behind Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, before they face Wolverhampton Wanderers and Ederson, before Manchester City take on Bournemouth, with both goalkeepers playing at home on Wednesday evening. It shows that despite the turbulent season De Gea and United have endured, he is not all that far off the pack. Premier League champion Allison has kept 13 clean sheets this season.

Defenders: Ethan Laird, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

It looks as though Solskjaer will need to make some changes to his defence, not just to keep them fresh but to counter any injuries that may have happened. Aaron Wan-Bissaka looked tired against Southampton and if United are going to put up a fight against Chelsea on Sunday in the FA Cup semi-final, keeping the right-back fit is a way of doing so. Ethan Laird could be drafted in at right-back in this instance, ahead of Diogo Dalot. Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams were injured against the Saints but I think Shaw could be fit for this match, with Williams possibly having to sit it out because of a head injury but Solskjaer will confirm his injury problems when he talks to the press. Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire will probably keep their places as I don’t think Solskjaer trusts Eric Bailly but Teden Mengi could also be an option, possibly off the bench.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba

Nemanja Matic has been a solid player at this stage of the season and continues to receive praise from his teammates. However, If United intend on bringing the challenge to Chelsea in order to reach the FA Cup final this season, they will need to keep Matic fresh, giving him a rest, albeit from the bench, for this match. Scott McTominay could start ahead of him alongside Paul Pogba, who will need to up his game after a relatively poor performance against Southampton on Monday evening. The Frenchman could have hit a wall in terms of fitness after returning to action a month ago and playing 456 minutes of football in that time.

Attacking Midfield: Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood

I don’t think Solskjaer will make any changes in this area unless he has to due to injury or fatigue. Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood are the best players to be utilised here. If United rotate any of those, creativity will go down and United need to take every chance they are given now and keep winning Premier League matches is what they need to be doing. I would like to see players given a rest ahead of the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea but other teams will be in the same boat as United, despite playing two days earlier, which is what Chelsea are doing. Some will say it is not fair to be given the advantage but it is pointless worrying as what will be will be. Que sera sera and all that.

Striker: Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial was in great form against Southampton but could not drive United to get a third goal, which cost the team in that match, watching a win turn into a draw and a chance to break into the top four missed. However, United still have opportunities but they become much harder than they were before. United will need to keep winning, and winning well. Martial has scored 21 goals so far this season and has more in him. Can he help inspire this United team to keep going? This is his best ever season for United, surely he wants to keep on going with three more Premier League matches remaining after this one, plus the FA Cup and that’s before the UEFA Europa League commences.

Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Eric Bailly, Teden Mengi; Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred, Daniel James, Nemanja Matic; Odion Ighalo

Solskjaer has five substitutes to use and has three windows during a match to use them, not including the half time break. Some moan about United being down to ten men against Southampton but the windows to substitute players were all used before Brandon Williams received his head injury, so United had no other option. Things like this happen and If three substitutions were used, before coronavirus, the same thing would have happened. Sergio Romero will remain on the bench, possibly starting against Chelsea (I could be wrong). In defence, Eric Bailly and Teden Mengi could be options with Williams seemingly out of action. In midfield, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred, Daniel James and Nemanja Matic could be called upon with Odion Ighalo the only attacking player on the bench.

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