Preview: Sabitzer to make his debut against Palace? Old Trafford becoming a fortress once again – Palace should be worried

Getting three points from this Palace match is very important

Manchester United -v- Crystal Palace

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 4 February 2023, KO 15:00 GMT

Manchester United welcome Crystal Palace to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon in another traditional 3pm kick off this season. Erik ten Hag’s side will be seeking to get back to business in the Premier League after three domestic cup matches which have seen them reach the Carabao Cup final where they will face Newcastle United at the end of the month and reach the last 16 of the Emirates FA Cup, where they will face West Ham United.

United have a great record at Old Trafford this season – undefeated in their last 14 matches at the Theatre of Dreams, winning the last 12 home matches in a row in all competitions. It almost seems like Old Trafford is becoming a fortress once again, as it had been on the past. Under Ole Gunnar Solskjær, United set an away record and under Ten Hag, is seems that turning the Theatre of Dreams back into a fortress is somewhat of a priority for Ten Hag – and rightly so.

United need to start registering more points in the Premier League as in their last two matches just one point was earned. It has seen them slip from third into fourth and allowed Tottenham Hotspur with a chance to break back into the top four. United need to cushion their lead over Spurs and ensure they are safely in the top four with more difficult matches to come in the coming months. The next three Premier League matches should see United pushing for nine points.

Manchester United – Form, Goals Scored & Assists

Nottingham Forest 2-0 W, Reading 3-1 W, Nottingham Forest 3-0 W, Arsenal 3-2 L, Crystal Palace 1-1 D, Manchester City 2-1 W

Goals: 18 – Marcus Rashford, 6 – Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial, 5 – Antony, 4 – Casemiro, Fred, 3 – Own Goal, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, 2 – Christian Eriksen, Alejandro Garnacho, Scott McTominay, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw, Wout Weghorst

Assists: 9 – Christian Eriksen, 7 – Marcus Rashford, 6 – Bruno Fernandes, 5 – Casemiro, 4 – Alejandro Garnacho, 2 – Anthony Elanga, Anthony Martial, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luke Shaw, 1 – Antony, Diogo Dalot, Fred, Scott McTominay, Facundo Pellistri, Jadon Sancho, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Crystal Palace – Form, Goals Scored & Assists

Newcastle United 0-0 D, Manchester United 1-1 D, Chelsea 1-0 L, Southampton 2-1 L, Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 L, Bournemouth 2-0 W

Goals: 6 – Wilfried Zaha, 5 – Odsonne Édouard, 3 – Eberechi Eze, 2 – Michael Olise, 1 – Joachim Andersen, Jordan Ayew, Jean-Philippe Mateta, Luka Milivojevic

Assists: 4 – Michael Olise, 3 – Eberechi Eze, Wilfried Zaha, 2 – Odsonne Édouard, Tyrick Mitchell, 1 – Jordan Ayew, Cheick Oumar Doucouré, Jeffrey Schlupp

Previous Meetings & Connections

United and Palace have met 27 times in the Premier League with United winning 18 matches, drawing six matches and Palace winning three. United have scored 46 goals, winning four penalties, scoring three. Palace have scored 15 goals, winning one penalty, scoring it. Palace had been a problem for United of late, especially with the 1-1 draw in the last match. United need to be winning these matches and that is what will be needed at Old Trafford in this one.

United have kept 17 clean sheets with Palace keeping five. Discipline has been an issue in this fixture with United players shown 41 yellow cards and one red card and Palace players shown 43 yellow cards and two red cards. The last fixture between these two teams was a 1-1 draw which felt like a defeat for United after Palace equalised late in the match. United then faced Arsenal and were drawing 2-2 with Arsenal also scoring late in the match to win.

Wilfried Zaha, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Fraizer Campbell and Timothy Fosu-Mensah have all played for United and Palace. Schlupp was once on trial at United. Campbell and Fosu-Mensah came through United’s academy. Zaha was Sir Alex Ferguson’s final signing as manager of the club and he ended up making just four appearances, failing to score a single goal, returning to Palace 18 months later. Wan-Bissaka was purchased from Palace in the summer of 2019.

Team News

Donny van de Beek has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after a knee injury which required surgery. Christian Eriksen is out until late April/early May with an ankle injury sustained against Reading in the FA Cup last weekend. Scott McTominay is going to be out for the foreseeable future with a muscular injury and Jack Butland is ineligible to feature against his parent club – Crystal Palace this weekend. United saw a number of players return recently.

Diogo Dalot has been out for three weeks with a thigh injury and has returned to training this week, but will be a doubt ahead of the visit of Palace on Saturday. On Wednesday evening at Old Trafford, as United beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 in the Carabao Cup semi final second leg (5-0 on aggregate) both Anthony Martial and Jadon Sancho returned from their absences. January signing Marcel Sabitzer could be involved for United for the first time this weekend.

Nathan Ferguson, Wilfried Zaha, James McArthur and Joachim Andersen have recently been ruled out through injury. However, Andersen could be back for the clash against United at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. The last time these teams met, Palace scored a late equaliser which felt like a defeat for United. This weekend, it will be United seeking to get the victory keeping their current record at the Theatre of Dreams alive.

Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw;

Casemiro, Sabitzer;

Antony, Fernandes, Rashford;

Weghorst

Predicted Crystal Palace Starting XI – 4-2-3-1

Guaita;

Ward, Richards, Guéhi, Mitchell;

Doucouré, Schlupp;

Ayew, Eze, Zaha;

Édouard

Match Prediction

United are in great form this season and have won their last 12 matches at Old Trafford. That will be a concern for Palace and Leeds United, who both travel to the Theatre of Dreams in the next two matches. United have been playing some good football of late and that will also be a problem for both of those teams. United may have been rocked by the injury to Christian Eriksen but the signing of Marcel Sabitzer plus the return of Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial is a boost.

United will need to continue what they have been doing in their last few matches – win. Against Palace a few weeks back, United struggled to break them down and find more goals. That cannot be the case in this match – three points are a must. United played well against Arsenal and that late goal, which also stopped them winning against Palace, came back to haunt them turning a draw into a defeat. This time, Ten Hag will be striving for more goals – United need to score more goals.

With Spurs facing Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, United will need to ensure three points against Palace are a must with Spurs being so close to United (three points behind them). If that can be extended, should Spurs beat City it would still give United that cushion but if Spurs lost, United would be six points clear once again. Before the Barcelona match in mid-February, United could be in a solid position in the top four which should reinforce their season.

Manchester United 2-0 Crystal Palace

Written by John Walker


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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.