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Preview: Mourinho dishing out the debuts in Palace Premier League season finale

Manchester United -v- Crystal Palace

Old Trafford, Manchester

Premier League 2016/17

Sunday 20th May 2017; KO 15:00 BST

Not broadcast live on television in the United Kingdom

Manchester United face Crystal Palace in the final Premier League match of the season on Sunday afternoon at Old Trafford with nothing to play for. United will end the season in sixth place, after finishing fifth last season, fourth the season before and seventh the season before that. In Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge of the club, they were the Premier League champions. United have improved in places this season, the style of football has been better across the entire season, which has seen United attacking and scoring goals, which still needs to be improved in the summer. Jose Mourinho still has a big job at United in order to make them a team capable of challenging the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal, the teams that have finished above them this season. The likes of Everton, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion were close to United at times this season, Everton being the closest.

With the UEFA Europa League final coming up on Wednesday, United have drafted in a lot of youth for this match and it is presumed that Sam Allardyce, the Palace manager will do something similar to make it a fair match, which is good to see, providing it happens, of course. Joel Pereira, Kieran O’Hara, Demetri Mitchell, Axel Tuanzebe, Josh Harrop, Angel Gomes, Matty Willock, Scott McTominay, Zachary Dearnley and Tim Fosu-Mensah will all be part of the squad for this match with Paul Pogba making a return after the loss of his father last weekend. Marouane Fellaini is on the sidelines through an injury sustained in the 0-0 draw against Southampton during the week, but he has suggested to the media he should be fit for the final on Wednesday. It will certainly be an exciting match to see the youth given their chance and to see which ones take that chance. I am sure the media will start to make their excuses about Mourinho and youth.

Mourinho confirmed via the official Manchester United website as to who will and will not be available for the last match of the Premier League season, saying:

“Paul Pogba is fine. A strong guy, strong mentality. He’s learning how to live after his father passed away, but he is strong. He knows that he needs to play on Sunday because he hasn’t played or trained for a long time and he needs these minutes on the pitch, so he plays against Palace.

“Chris Smalling has a problem, but a small problem that I think is no problem at all for next week. It’s a problem for the weekend but not for the final. Marouane Fellaini is the question mark; we wait for today’s scans, we decided not to do it yesterday. Again, his feelings aren’t bad, but let’s wait. Tim Fosu-Mensah plays on Sunday and, if the reaction is good, and if he manages to play the game without problems, he’s a new option for us for the final.”

The manager then gave his insight into the youth that will be tested ahead of the match by confirming those who were training with the first team on Friday morning, which included 16-year-old Angel Gomes. Mourinho said:

“You will have the two goalkeepers, Joel Pereira and Kieran O’Hara. We will have Demi Mitchell, Scott McTominay, Josh Harrop, Matty Willock, Angel Gomes and Zachary Dearnley. I think that’s it. Plus Tim Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe, so lots of them.”

Mourinho also confirmed that there would be first team players involved in the squad, other than Paul Pogba who needed some minutes after sitting out the last few matches. The Portuguese manager said:

“I think one [young player can play] in the middle of a good structure, a dynamic structure, an experienced structure, yes. But as for lots of them together, I think no [they aren’t ready].

“I will bring three of four of the first-team players, you know, to play one half each. I can give a little bit of experience to the team but, at the same time, save them all for Wednesday. I don’t know [whether] Wayne [will play] or not, he played 90 minutes in the last match, so probably not.”

Match Officials: Anthony Taylor to officiate his sixth match involving Manchester United this season, his 44th match of the season…

Anthony Taylor will officiate the final match of the season at Old Trafford. This will be his 44th match of the season officiating in the Premier League (30), Emirates FA Cup (4), UEFA Europa League proper and qualifying rounds (4), UEFA Champions League proper and qualifying rounds (3), international friendlies (1) and FIFA World Cup qualifiers (2). In those matches, Taylor has shown just three red cards, one second yellow, and 167 yellow cards. This will be the sixth match involving Manchester United for Taylor this season, previously being in charge of the 2-0 victory over Southampton, the 0-0 draw against Liverpool, the 2-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion, the 3-0 victory over Leicester City and the 2-0 victory over Burnley. United are undefeated, at least this season when Taylor has been the match official. The assistant referees have been named as Gary Beswick, Marc Perry, the forth official will be Mike Jones.

Form: Both teams are playing for nothing other than pride at Old Trafford on Sunday…

Manchester United: This season has been tough for United. Since January, a total of 37 matches will have been played by the time Wednesday’s Europa League final is played. That is nearly a full Premier League season. A big ask for United who had suffered some bad injuries in that period of time; losing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo with severe knee injuries, and many others along the way. This season, though, will have defined something for the Manchester United players; you need to be in it to win it. United were still fighting in four competitions in February, winning one; the EFL Cup. The defeat to Chelsea in the Emirates FA Cup could have seen United play at least another game; two if they would have reached the final, meaning it could have been 39 games in less than five months for United. That would have been a great end to the season, but also a tiring one.

Crystal Palace: Sam Allardyce’s side have not had a bad season – they are safe in the Premier League and are played 13th. They won’t be contending for a place in Europe or anything, but it will still be classed as a good season for them. There is nothing to fight for, for either them or United, which will be a game of pride and pride only. Palace and United met in the final game of the season a year ago – the Emirates FA Cup final. Palace took United all the way with extra time needed to win the match after Palace opened the scoring late in the second half, Juan Mata equalising within ten minutes and Jesse Lingard winning the match ten minutes from time. Palace can be a tough side, ask Liverpool, their bogey team of the last few years. Alan Pardew may have started the season as the manager, but former England manager Allardyce ended it, keeping the club up, not that they were in all that much danger when it counted.

Who are the top scorers at both Manchester United and Crystal Palace this season?

Manchester United: 28 – Zlatan Ibrahimović, 12 – Marcus Rashford, 10 – Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 8 – Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, 7 – Paul Pogba, 5 – Jesse Lingard, 4 – Marouane Fellaini, 2 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, 1 – Daley Blind, Own Goal, Marcos Rojo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Antonio Valencia

Crystal Palace: 17 – Christian Benteke, 7 – Wilfried Zaha, 5 – James McArthur, 4 – Yohan Cabaye, Scott Dann, 3 – James Tomkins, Andros Townsend, Connor Wickham, 2 – Luka Milivojevic, Patrick van Aanholt, 1 – Yannick Bolasie, Fraizer Campbell, Joe Ledley

Team News: Mourinho with his youth injection to rest his stars for Wednesday in Stockholm

Chris Smalling and Marouane Fellaini will miss the match against Palace with minor injuries. Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ashley Young and Luke Shaw are all out for the remainder of the season. Eric Bailly received a knock in Wednesday’s match, meaning he could be a doubt for this Sunday’s match, which would be his final game of the season, should he play, of course. Sam Allardyce will be without Pape Souare, Connor Wickham, Mamadou Sakho, Yohan Cabaye and Andros Townsend for this match. Scott Dann and James Tomkins are both doubts. Jose Mourinho has confirmed that many youth players will be involved in this match with Joel Pereira, Kieran O’Hara, Demetri Mitchell, Axel Tuanzebe, Josh Harrop, Angel Gomes, Matty Willock, Scott McTominay, Zachary Dearnley and Tim Fosu-Mensah all involved in training on Friday with Fosu-Mensah recovering from his shoulder injury ahead of time – he was previously ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Previous Meetings: Fifty matches played between the two clubs, seven defeats for United!

Manchester United and Crystal Palace has a fifty match history dating back to the first match between the two sides, a 2-1 victory to United which was played on the 26th August 1922. Of the 50 matches played, United have won 33 times, drawn 10 matches and lost just seven. The last defeat to Palace goes back to 2011 when United lost 2-1 in the League Cup, a match which saw Wilfried Zaha catch Sir Alex Ferguson’s eye. United’s longest unbeaten run against Palace stretches 13 matches from the 3-1 victory on the 30th November 1991 to the 0-0 draw on the 5th March 2005. United lost the next match almost six years later. Since that defeat, the seventh in the club’s history, United and Palace have played eight matches, United winning seven and drawing once. Jose Mourinho will be looking to keep that record running and ensure the last game at Old Trafford is a win for Manchester United, which is only the right thing to be aiming for. The fact he is trusting youth to get that result shows how much he values the club and their history.

Starting XI Prediction: Who is going to start against Crystal Palace?

Predicted Score:

Manchester United 2-1 Crystal Palace

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