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Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United

Sports Mole takes a closer look at both teams ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash between Crystal Palace and Manchester United.

Manchester United will be hoping to keep the pressure on the sides above them when they visit Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon.

Louis van Gaal's side trail Manchester City and Arsenal by two points heading into the meeting with the Eagles, who have lost their last three games in all competitions.

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palaces English manager Alan Pardew awaits kick off in the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion at Selhurst Park in south London on October 3, 2015© Getty Images

Almost everything Alan Pardew has touched since becoming Palace boss has turned to gold, but he faces a battle to boost the squad's confidence after disappointing performances in recent weeks.

Defeats to West Ham United and Leicester City were followed by a 5-1 League Cup thrashing at the hands of Manchester City in midweek, which has put the pressure on the Eagles to produce a response as they look to prove that many people were right to tip them for a top-10 finish this season.

Palace have lost three and won two of their last five league games, and Pardew will be fully aware that a failure to find consistency heading into a packed winter schedule will see the club slide down the table.

Currently just four points ahead of 15th-placed Chelsea, the outlook could change very quickly should the Eagles struggle to deliver the fast counter-attacking football which has won so many admirers in the early stages of the campaign.

"It's still very much a happy camp. We work hard and no one likes to lose - that's certainly the case with this bunch here," centre-back Brede Hangeland told the club's website this week. "We're really keen to put things right as soon as possible and to get some points."

It is a typical statement from inside a club, but without an improved display, a minor blip could become an extended spell of disappointing form.

Recent form: LLWWLL
Recent form (all competitions): WWWLLL

Manchester United

Manchester United's Dutch coach Louis van Gaal looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League group B football match between PFC CSKA Moscow and FC Manchester United at the Arena Khimki stadium outside Moscow on October 21, 2015.© Getty Images

As seems to have been the case for much of Van Gaal's reign, the Dutchman has quickly seen impressive weeks followed by spells of disappointing performances, and he has come in for criticism once again in recent days.

Playing out a goalless draw with Manchester City last weekend certainly should not be looked back on as a poor result, but the frustration was clear in midweek as they crashed out of the League Cup with a penalty-shootout loss to Middlesbrough.

Despite the competition clearly not being a priority for the club this season, the display was simply not good enough from the hosts at Old Trafford as they struggled to cause problems for a Championship defence while dominating possession for long spells of the fourth-round tie.

The shootout defeat made it three games without a win in all competitions, and United legend Paul Scholes accused Van Gaal of possessing a "lack of creativity" in his squad after scoring just five goals in four games since the start of October.

United fans are desperate to see this side produce a strong title challenge, and while they are currently just two points off the pace, there is a feeling that this side is lacking the quality required to push City and Arsenal to the limit.

Van Gaal's approach is unlikely to change anytime soon, and a convincing victory over Palace at the weekend will silence some of his critics for a few more weeks as United continue to strive for their best on a regular basis.

Recent form: WWWLWD
Recent form (all competitions): WLWDDL

Team News

Yohan Cabaye of Crystal Palace celebrates scoring his team's first goal from the penalty spot during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and West Ham United at Selhurst Park on October 17, 2015© Getty Images

Palace boss Pardew is sweating on the fitness of Yohan Cabaye, who picked up a knock which kept him out of the defeat to City in midweek and is a doubt for the visit of United.

The Frenchman's injury adds to the concerns for Pardew as the hosts will be without Pape Souare, Conor Wickham and Marouane Chamakh.

Van Gaal is set to recall Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial, who started on the bench against Middlesbrough, while Juan Mata and Ander Herrera will both be fresh after watching the tie as unused substitutes.

Matteo Darmian started against Middlesbrough and should keep his place at right-back in the absence of the injured Antonio Valencia.

Palace possible starting lineup:
Hennessey; Kelly, Hangeland, Dann, Ward; McArthur, Jedinak; Zaha, Puncheon, Sako; Bolasie

Man Utd possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Darmian, Jones, Smalling, Rojo; Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger; Mata, Herrera, Rooney; Martial

Head To Head

Palace supporters will be fully aware that their side have never beaten United in the Premier League, with the Eagles suffering 10 defeats and drawing just two games.

Juan Mata was the hero last season as he scored in both fixtures against Palace to help United follow a 1-0 home win with a 2-1 triumph at Selhurst Park.

Video Preview

Hit play below to see what the Sports Mole Sofa had to say about this encounter:

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We say: Palace 1-2 Man Utd

United are under pressure to deliver a convincing performance after showing a lack of attacking quality over the past week, and the spotlight is likely to be on captain Rooney, who will be desperate to silence some of his doubters. Palace should make it difficult for the visitors as the home crowd look to play their part in a return to form, but United may have enough to battle to all three points.

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Yohan Cabaye of Crystal Palace scores their first goal from a penalty during the Barclays Premier League match between Watford and Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road on September 27, 2015
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