Preview: Solskjaer seeking to beat Palace despite club not backing him this summer

Manchester United -v- Crystal Palace

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 19 September 2020, KO 17:30 BST

Referee: Martin Atkinson Assistants: Lee Betts, Peter Kirkup 

Fourth Official: Robert Jones

VAR: Jonathan Moss Assistant VAR: Marc Perry

Manchester United will start the 2020/21 Premier League season against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side should have started at Turf Moor against Burnley last weekend but both United and Manchester City has their opening matches postponed due to their participation in the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League respectively. United have played just one pre-season match this summer, losing to Aston Villa at Villa Park last Saturday.

That said, United’s players should still be fresh from their European endeavours and playing for their countries during the international break, which came before the season actually started. Roy Hodgson’s side have played two competitive matches already this season, added to four pre-season matches whilst United were still playing in Europe. This will be an important match for United as they lost this fixture last season and will be seeking to start the 2020/21 season well.

This summer, there was so much promise that United could partake in the summer transfer market, continuing their rebuild. However, the club is currently failing to bring in more than one new signing so far this summer; Donny van de Beek from Ajax. Solskjaer’s side have been linked with Jadon Sancho all summer, but that prospective deal is something that has not really developed since the 10 August deadline expired. United recently missed out on Sergio Reguilon, who will be signing for Tottenham Hotspur.

Form: Palace in better form currently having played four pre-season matches after the completion of the Premier League season; United played in the UEFA Europa League and had one pre-season friendly.

Manchester United: LLWWWD

Aston Villa 1-0 L (F), Sevilla 2-1 L, FC Copenhagen 1-0 W, Linzer ASK 2-1 W, Leicester City 2-0 W, West Ham United 1-1 D

Crystal Palace: LWDWWW

Bournemouth 0-0 (11-10 pens) L, Southampton 1-0 W, Brondby 1-1 D (F), Millwall 1-0 W (F), Charlton Athletic 3-0 W (F), Oxford United 2-1 W (F)

Top Scorers: Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes looking to score the goals for United again this season? Palace likely to be more match fit than United.

Manchester United Goals: 0

United were due to open their Premier League season away to Burnley last weekend but because of their participation in the UEFA Europa League, which was played out in August alongside the UEFA Champions League, the first match of the season was postponed, along with Manchester City’s class with Aston Vila. United have played one pre-season friendly this summer, against Villa last weekend – a 1-0 defeat with many first team players missing from the squad. United will need to start the season running.

Crystal Palace Goals: 1 – Wilfried Zaha

Palace started their 2020/21 season Southampton last weekend, winning the match 1-0 with Zaha scoring the only goal of the game. Palace then came up short against Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup, drawing the match 0-0 and losing 11-10 on penalties. Palace played four pre-season friendlies this summer, after a month-long break following the Premier League season being completed, beating Oxford United, Charlton Athletic and Millwall but drawing against Danish side Brondby. Palace will be fitter than United.

Team News: United might be missing some first team players this weekend but Donny van de Beek could make his debut for the club.

Solskjaer will start the new Premier League season without Phil Jones (knee) and Axel Tuanzebe (ankle/foot) – with both players ruled out for the foreseeable future. Paul Pogba is also a doubt after his positive coronavirus test, now recovering from the virus and back in training. However, he might not be fully fit to face Palace, but might be involved from the bench if he continues to train well ahead of Saturday’s clash at the Theatre of Dreams. It was always expected for some players to be missing.

Roy Hodgson will be missing Nathan Ferguson (knee), Patrick van Aanholt (shoulder), Gary Cahill (thigh), James Tomkins (thigh) and Connor Wickham (other) – all five players have already been ruled out for this match. The club has two more injuries to overcome with Christian Benteke (ankle/foot) having a 25% chance of returning and Jairo Riedewald (other) having a 75% chance of returning and being subject to a late injury test. I would predict that only Riedewald could be involved this weekend, based on this news.

Predicted Starting XI: Rashford, Martial and Greenwood to lead the line in a 4-3-3 formation with Bruno Fernandes, Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic in midfield? David De Gea or Dean Henderson in goal?

Nine players who missed the friendly against Aston Villa last Saturday returned to training this week. They have not had the longest break out of the game but might not be fully match fit for this weekend, so there will be some doubts as to whether Solskjaer will field a fully experienced XI against Palace. I think Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood will lead the line with a midfield three of Bruno Fernandes, Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic. David De Gea will start in goal, I think.

Match Prediction: United to hit the ground running against Palace? 17 wins, four draws and one defeat in 22 Premier League matches against the Eagles.

United and Palace have met 22 times in the Premier League; United have won 17 times, drawn four times and were beaten just once. In terms of goals scored, United have 43 compared to Palace’s 10 with United winning four penalties and scoring three – Palace have not won a penalty against United in the Premier League. United have kept 15 clean sheets with Palace keeping three. Discipline has been an issue with United receiving 31 yellow card and one red card with Palace receiving 36 yellow cards and two red.

Last season, in this fixture at Old Trafford, United lost their first match against Palace in the Premier League. Jordan Ayew opened the scoring in the 32nd minute of the match with Daniel James equalising in the 89th minute. Patrick van Aanholt scored the winner three minutes into added time. At Selhurst Park, United were the victors with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring in added time at the end of the first half with Anthony Martial doubling United’s lead in the 78th minute of the match.

Manchester United 2-1 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.