Manchester United are back in Premier League action on Saturday, as Crystal Palace are in town. The match at Old Trafford will be a good opportunity for the Devils to come back from an unlucky draw at Wolves on Monday night. Roy Hodgson’s side, however, wants to improve the image they have created around them in the opening 180 minutes and a good performance at the Theatre of Dreams would get a lot of attention.
But what do we need to know about Palace before the match?
The Turbulent Pre-Season
Well, the pre-season did not go as well as everyone at Crystal Palace had hoped. The only thing everyone was talking about was Wilfried Zaha. Will the former Man United player leave the club and join Everton (or some big six team, which was less likely, to be completely realistic) or will he stay for another season. In the midst of all of that thinking, no one actually paid any attention to the ageing squad.
This team is increasingly getting more and more “mileage” without adding younger players to the core of the side. Max Meyer is the only younger guy who features somewhat regularly and he is 24 and underperforming what was expected of him. Players like Gary Cahill have been added and Zaha in the end stayed. His performances this season could be the difference between staying up or going down, as Palace have shown nothing so far this season.
The Poor Start
Their first match was against Everton, which they drew 0-0. The other one, they lost to Sheffield 1-0. Not one Palace fan had a positive thing to say about their performance in Sheffield and if they keep going like that, it will be a very long and stressful season for all at Selhurst Park.
The team did not score in the opening 180 minutes and against United they will be facing their toughest opposition so far. And no wonder they did not score. Their attacking options this season are… well, far from great. Christian Benteke is not even a shadow of a striker he was at Aston Villa, Connor Wickham never realized his potential and Jordan Ayew runs a lot. And that is about it.
Crystal Palace have 3 strikers this season:
4⚽️ & 6 assists in the last 2 PL seasons, 26.12 matches played
8⚽️ & 4 assists in the last 2 PL seasons, 44.96 matches played
— Nebojša Marković (@MarkovicNeb) August 18, 2019
And then there are their stats. Benteke and Ayew have scored a total of 12 goals in the past two seasons (and seven of those 12 came when Ayew was still at Swansea), with Wickham never scoring more than five in a single Premier League campaign. Add to that the lack of any eye-catching quality in the rest of the team (Zaha excluded) and you see why Palace fans are worried.
Devils Know What To Do
Scouting Roy Hodgson’s teams is not a big task, especially this Palace team. They use their low block trying to negate the space and then attack on the counter with swift long balls or via Zaha’s dribbling skills. And that is about it. Palace would be crazy to use two strikers again, as they will probably opt for a 4-1-4-1 formation or something similarly pragmatic. With Aaron Wan-Bissaka playing against Zaha on the flank, he will definitely know how to stop him and Man United’s pure quality should be enough to see off the Eagles.