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Preview: Mourinho looking to continue winning run against Palace

Selhurst Park, London

Premier League 2016/17

Wednesday 14th December 2016 – KO 20:00 [Live on BT Sport]

Referee: Kevin Friend

Assistant Referees: Darren Cann and Derek Eaton

Fourth Official: Mark Clattenburg

Manchester United travel to London to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the Premier League on Wednesday evening. United broke their rut of draws against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon with Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring the only goal of the match but becoming injured and having to be stretchered off, just as his form was getting impressive. The Armenian, the first from his country to score in the Premier League has been ruled out of the visit to Palace, and possible West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, but could be back in action on Boxing Day to face David Moyes’ Sunderland. Mkhitaryan, despite being on the sidelines through injury and a period of adaptation to the league, paid Jose Mourinho back for helping get him ready for Manchester United, starting to impress in his first match back against Feyenoord in the UEFA Europa League. The Armenian had been involved in half of United’s goals since he returned, scoring twice and assisting twice, showing just why Mourinho wanted the player at the club.

Mkhitaryan’s absence will be a big blow as against Spurs he was United’s best attacking player and he seemed to pull the strings at times also. United maybe would have rested him against Palace, to keep him fresh for the festive period of matches, which will start coming thick and fast soon. Juan Mata, who has been on the bench for the last few matches will most likely replace the Armenian in the starting XI, with Wayne Rooney probably being involved as he was an unused substitute on Sunday, playing in Odessa the previous Thursday. Mourinho has a strong team to throw at Palace, but one player who did not travel to London was Anthony Martial. who may be rested for Saturday’s trip to The Hawthorns, with United expecting a defensive masterclass from the side, who have been difficult to break down in recent years – Chelsea struggled against them at the weekend too.

Palace have not had a great start to the season, losing six matches in a row with manager Alan Pardew tipped to be sacked, but seemingly hanging onto his job by a thread, despite the fact that performances have become much better. Who knows, he could retain his job this season after guiding his team through a turbulent period. Against United, Palace will probably think they are Barcelona, which is normally the case as it seems to be every team’s cup final playing United, especially after Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season. United have had a tough period, dithering to seventh place the season they were guided by David Moyes, finishing fourth in Louis van Gaal’s first season, then finishing fifth last season, winning the Emirates FA Cup. in which they beat Pardew’s Palace at Wembley. United will be without Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan who are on the sidelines through injury, aside of that, Mourinho has much of his squad to choose from with twenty players travelling down to London on Tuesday afternoon.

Manchester United Form:- WWDWD

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 W, Zorya Luhansk 2-0 W, Everton 1-1 D, West Ham United 4-1 W, West Ham United 1-1 D

Manchester United turned a corner on Sunday at Old Trafford, beating Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, their first win in the league since the 6th November when they beat Swansea City 3-1 at the Liberty Stadium and their first at home since the 24th September, when they beat reigning Premier League champions Leicester City. United had been playing well for a few months, putting the possession based football of Louis van Gaal and the clueless football of David Moyes behind them, dominating matches, but suffering in the latter stages by conceding an equalising goal, or finding themselves chasing the game in the opening minutes after conceding a goal. United need to ensure that corner still remains turned against Palace, ensuring they leave the capital with all three points, which will continue their rise in the league.

Crystal Palace Form:- DWLLL

Hull City 3-3 D, Southampton 3-0 W, Swansea City 5-4 L, Manchester City 2-1 L, Burnley 3-2 L

Crystal Palace did not have a good start to the new season and have recently lost six matches in a row throughout October and November. December has seen some better form from Alan Pardew’s side, winning once and drawing once in the matches played so far this month. Last season, Palace we a tough side to beat, but at a period this season, that seems to have disappeared. Against United, Palace have been a tough side, normally playing some good football and attacking with flair. I expect that to be on the cards on Wednesday evening. Pardew will be looking to turn a corner himself, having a good start to the month, and continuing that throughout the festive period where they face Chelsea, Watford, Arsenal and Swansea City again between now and the 3rd January 2017.

Manchester United Top Scorers:

13 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 5 – Juan Mata, 4 – Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, 3 – Jesse Lingard, Wayne Rooney, 2 – Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 1 – Michael Carrick, Own Goal, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling

Crystal Palace Top Scorers:

8 – Christian Benteke, 4 – James McArthur, 3 – Scott Dann, James Tomkins, Connor Wickham, Wilfried Zaha, 1 – Yannick Bolasie, Yohan Cabaye, Fraizer Campbell, Joe Ledley, Andros Townsend

Manchester United Squad;

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone

Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe

Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Injuries and Suspensions: Chris Smalling (foot), Luke Shaw (knock), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (ankle) – Antonio Valencia (one match suspension)

Crystal Palace Squad:

Manager: Alan Pardew

Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey, Steve Mandanda

Defenders: Joel Ward, James Tomkins, Scott Dann, Zeki Fryers, Pape Souaré, Damien Delaney, Martin Kelly

Midfielders: Mathieu Flamini, Yohan Cabaye, Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha, Lee Chung-yong, Joe Ledley, James McArthur, Jordon Mutch, Bakary Sako, Jason Puncheon

Forwards: Fraizer Campbell, Jonathan Benteke, Christian Benteke, Connor Wickham

Injuries and Suspensions: James Tomkins (knock), Bakary Sako (muscle injury), Connor Wickham (ACL), Steve Mandanda (knee), Jonathan Benteke (knee), Pape Souaré (broken leg)

Predicted Starting XI:

Predicted Score:

Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United

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