Starting XI Prediction: Mourinho to play a tried and tested team to devastate Palace at Old Trafford


Manchester United take on Crystal Palace in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. Roy Hodgson’s side are currently at the bottom of the Premier League table, in need of a miracle to turn their form around. Palace have played six matches in the league, losing all, conceding 13 goals and failing to score a single one. Many will see this as a great time to face Palace, but with them aiming to raise morale and win their first match of the season, this will be a dangerous time to face the hurting London club. United beat CSKA Moscow 4-1 in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening in Russia, their second win in the elite European competition this season and another match which saw the Old Trafford club score four goals. Palace, beaten by Manchester City 5-0 last weekend, will be wary of United form so far this season.

Starting XI Prediction (4-2-3-1):

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish goalkeeper has been in great form this season, recently making his 100th clean sheet at the club. Against CSKA Moscow, the Spaniard was unlucky to concede the goal in the 90th minute but could do nothing about it. De Gea is the best goalkeeper in the world, with arguably the best stand-in goalkeeper in Sergio Romero. United could go far with the pair this season, both know what is required of them, both achieving that the majority of the time. Palace will be a tough match, scrappy even, but United should have what it takes to deny them with De Gea in goal.

Back Four: Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind

Manchester United’s defence really is top-draw this season. Antonio Valencia is one of the best, if not the best right-back in the Premier League, playing better further forward, as he did as a winger years ago, but helping United attack with flair, passion and pace. Eric Bailly made his Champions League debut on Wednesday, playing well and unfortunate not to help De Gea keep a clean sheet with United playing three at the back. The Ivorian is a great purchase – for a player of his ilk, £30 million was a small price to pay. Chris Smalling has not really been tested in the Premier League this season but with Phil Jones on the sidelines with a knock, Mourinho may have to include the England defender in his starting XI, or give Victor Lindelof a start in the league. Daley Blind will be picked at left-back, Luke Shaw still not near the fitness levels to start, but Mourinho could throw him in with Blind playing against CSKA in Russia on Wednesday.

Defensive Midfield: Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera

Nemanja Matic is a dead cert to face Palace, he will close down their play, do what he needs to do, giving United the reassurances they need to continue their fluid attacking play. Matic, for me, is the best signing of the summer, one which will be instrumental in anything United achieve this season. Ander Herrera should play alongside the Serbian, playing well on Wednesday and getting into the swing of things in the team this season. With Marouane Fellaini, Paul Pogba and Michael Carrick all out of action, United will need Herrera and Matic to remain fit and raring to go – although there is an international break after this match, giving the injured player some time to get back to full fitness ahead of Liverpool next month.

Forward Three: Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford

Juan Mata was effectively rested against CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, on the bench but unused. He has the eye for passes, can play on the right, but with Valencia overlapping, can cut in and play a more central attacking role. Henrikh Mkhitaryan played his 50th match on Wednesday, scoring the fourth goal of the match and playing some brilliant football throughout the game. The Armenian certainly has the confidence to play Palace, which could be another whitewash for United, which is deserved for the London club. Marcus Rashford was benched for Wednesday’s match, coming in late in the game. I expect him to replace Anthony Martial, who came off on Wednesday seemingly carrying a knock, which could rule him out of this match. Rashford will be a cat amongst the pigeons against Palace, seemingly seeking another goal or assist to ensure United win, again.

Striker: Romelu Lukaku

The in-form Belgian striker has been a great signing for United this summer. £75 million and he has, on average, scored in every match he has played, scoring twice in two matches; one at the start of the season and the game on Wednesday. Ten goals in nine matches is a great achievement, something no other United player has achieved at the club, Dwight Yorke coming closest in the 1999/2000 season. Lukaku may have been laughed at for his first touch, but Chelsea fans would appreciate his goalscoring talents this season, which would see the Premier League champions reign supreme, instead of sitting in third behind both Manchester United and City.

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