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Manchester United shut out can equal Premier League clean sheet record

On Saturday afternoon, Manchester United will be pitted against Crystal Palace in the Premier League at Old Trafford. United have already had a great start to the season, one which sees them in second place in the league, level on points with leaders Manchester City, only goal difference separating the two Manchester clubs. Lowly Palace, who are struggling in the league this season have yet to win a match, even score a goal – losing all six matches played this season, conceding 13 goals.

Against Everton a few weeks ago, David De Gea won his 100th clean sheet for United, a feat which sees him not all that far off some of the legendary goalkeepers to play for the club and providing his and United can keep a clean sheet against Palace, which may be something they are confident about, a Premier League record will be equalled. United have kept five clean sheets already this season, beating West Ham United 4-0, Swansea City 4-0, Leicester City 2-0, Everton 4-0 and Southampton 1-0, conceding twice against Stoke City in a 2-2 draw, the only match United have dropped points.

It was back in the 1997/98 season where United kept six clean sheets in the seven opening matches, the only time the Old Trafford club have achieved this. Back then United beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0, Southampton 1-0, drew 0-0 with Leicester City, then beating Everton 2-0, Coventry City 3-0, conceding their first goal in a 2-1 victory over West Ham United, then drawing 0-0 with Bolton Wanderers – six clean sheets in seven matches. Of course, that season United ended only by winning the FA Community Shield, finishing second in the Premier League – Arsenal were the champions.

The only goal conceded in the first seven Premier League matches that season was by John Hartson, which is similar to this season, despite United conceding two goals so far this season, it was by the same Stoke player, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. At the end of the 1997/98 season, United had kept 20 clean sheets in 38 matches, still not enough to stop Arsenal from lifting the Premier League trophy, finishing just one point ahead of the Red Devils. United had scored more goals than Arsenal, 73 compared to 68, also conceding fewer goals, 26 compared to 33.

United are currently in great form, adding the Carabao Cup and UEFA Champions League matches to their league form, United have won nine of their first ten matches this season, which all adds up to the current momentum in the team. Jose Mourinho’s side are in the zone and looking to destroy any team which stands in their way. In total, in the Premier League alone, United have scored 17 goals, conceding just two – which is nearly 32% of the total goals scored in the league last season alone. Including cup matches, United have scored 28 goals, conceding four.

Crystal Palace could be in a position of dread heading into the Premier League clash at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday, which, this season alone, has been a fortress for the Old Trafford club. United are unbeaten in their last nine matches against Palace, last beaten in the League Cup in 2011, then before that, a run of 13 matches saw United dominate against the London club. That puts them in a tough predicament – losing their seventh league match this season and the possibility of failing to score yet again.

Mourinho could test his three at the back formation again, fielding a 3-4-2-1 (3-4-3 variation) in the 4-1 victory over CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, which showed United’s attack as fluid with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial dominating, the Frenchman setting up Romelu Lukaku twice, scoring a penalty himself and putting in another shot, which deflected and was smacked into the back of the net by Mkhitaryan. That formation and swashbuckling style of play will be enough for lowly Palace and could see them roll over like they have every other week in the league.

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