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Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Premier League clash between Crystal Palace and Manchester United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Crystal Palace welcome Manchester United to Selhurst Park on Wednesday night looking to pull off a league double over the 20-time champions for the first time ever.

The Eagles memorably won 3-1 at Old Trafford earlier this season, but 17 points now separate the two sides in the table with Man United looking to further strengthen their Champions League hopes in midweek.


Match preview

Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi appears to handle the ball while in action with Manchester United's Mason Greenwood in the Premier League on February 28, 2021© Reuters

Manchester United played out their fifth goalless league draw of the season last time out as neither Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side nor Chelsea could find the breakthrough at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

A controversially-rejected penalty claim against Callum Hudson-Odoi aside, there was little to shout about for either team during the stalemate - something which has been a feature of Man United's games against big-six opposition this season.

All five of those 0-0 draws this season have come against other members of the 'big six', and they have failed to find the back of the net in their last six such matches.

With 12 points now separating them from leaders Manchester City, it could be argued that Man United's record in those games is the biggest reason why their title challenge now appears to be all but over.

While Sunday's stalemate allowed Man City to move further clear, Man United escaped relatively unscathed in terms of those behind them, with Leicester City and West Ham United both losing in addition to Chelsea's dropped points.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts in the Europa League on February 18, 2021© Reuters

Solskjaer's side remain second as a result, with a six-point cushion over fifth place, and they head into Wednesday's contest unbeaten in nine games across all competitions and with only one defeat in their last 20 Premier League outings.

Three of the last four of those have ended as draws, though, and the importance of returning to winning ways in midweek is only heightened by the looming Manchester derby awaiting them on Sunday.

Indeed, the Red Devils are heading into a potentially season-defining run, with their next five games after this seeing them take on Man City, AC Milan in both legs of their Europa League last 16, fellow top-four dwellers West Ham United in the Premier League and high-flying Leicester City in the FA Cup.

Man United will be favourites to go into that run off the back of a win as they travel to Selhurst Park unbeaten in their last seven visits to London and without defeat in their last 20 away league matches - a run which stretches back more than a year and one which has only been bettered four times in English top-flight history.

The 20-time champions have also never lost in 11 previous Premier League away games against Crystal Palace - the longest run of its kind ever seen in the competition - although Palace have won two of the last three league meetings home and away, which is as many wins as they had managed in their previous 27.

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha celebrates with teammates after scoring against Manchester United on September 19, 2020© Reuters

That includes their famous 3-1 triumph at Old Trafford in September, although their statistics from recent games suggest that they will struggle to repeat that three-goal haul on Wednesday.

Palace registered just 33 shots from five Premier League games in February - the lowest number by a team in a single Premier League month with at least five games since records began - including managing just six shots and facing 41 at the other end in their last two outings.

Nonetheless, Roy Hodgson's side have taken four points from those two games, somehow beating rivals Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 while having just two touches in the opposition box, before holding out for a goalless draw with Fulham on Sunday.

Those results have lifted the Eagles 10 points clear of the relegation zone, and realistically two more wins would be enough to guarantee their safety for another season.

Palace may have to be patient for those wins considering nine of their final 12 games come against teams currently in the top half of the table, but Hodgson will be increasingly confident that the club's short-term future in the Premier League is secure despite his own future being far from it.

Crystal Palace Premier League form: WWLLWD

Manchester United Premier League form: DWDDWD
Manchester United form (all competitions): WDWWDD



Team News

Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani pictured on February 2, 2021© Reuters

Manchester United were able to include Scott McTominay, Daniel James and Donny van de Beek in their matchday squad on Sunday after the trio all overcame minor knocks.

Edinson Cavani was once again absent with a muscle problem, but the veteran striker has now returned to training and is expected to be in contention for this game.

However, Solskjaer is unlikely to take any risks over his fitness with the Manchester derby just around the corner, and if there is any doubt over a lingering injury then either Mason Greenwood or Anthony Martial will lead the line.

Wednesday's match will come too soon for Paul Pogba, while Juan Mata and Phil Jones remain out too, but Solskjaer could opt to make changes to his side with one eye on the derby.

Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Dean Henderson and Nemanja Matic are among the players knocking on the door, while Van de Beek, who scored his only Man United goal on his debut in the reverse fixture, will be hopeful of some game time too.

Hodgson voiced his frustration at having this match "thrust" upon his team at relatively short notice due to fixture rescheduling, particularly as it will likely prevent Wilfried Zaha from facing his former club.

The winger scored twice in the reverse fixture and has now returned to training, with Hodgson predicting that he will be back "very, very soon", although Wednesday's match may still come too early.

Zaha's probable absence is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Palace's injury troubles too, with the Eagles missing seven other first-team players for this match.

Tyrick Mitchell is the latest to join that list, which also includes Nathaniel Clyne, Mamadou Sakho, Wayne Hennessey and James Tomkins.

James McArthur and Nathan Ferguson have now entered the final stages of their recoveries, but this match will come too soon for either to feature.

There is more positive news when it comes to Connor Wickham and Jeffrey Schlupp, though, with both players back in contention for this match.

Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Ward, Kouyate, Cahill, Van Aanholt; Milivojevic, Riedewald; Townsend, Eze, Ayew; Mateta

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Telles; Matic, Fred; James, Fernandes, Rashford; Cavani


SM words green background

We say: Crystal Palace 0-1 Manchester United

Manchester United's unbeaten record on the road is hugely impressive and we can see it extending here, although four of their last five away games have ended all square, while they have only scored three goals in that time.

We therefore do not expect to see a high-scoring Manchester United performance, but equally it is difficult to back a Palace side who have struggled to even get shots off lately, yet alone put the ball in the back of the net.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data



Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


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Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson pictured in January 2021
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City32235467234474
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd31189461342763
3Leicester CityLeicester31175955371856
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham32167953421155
5Chelsea31159750311954
6Liverpool31157953371652
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs321481054371750
8Everton31147104340349
9Arsenal31136124335845
10Leeds UnitedLeeds31143144949045
11Aston Villa301351243331044
12Wolverhampton WanderersWolves32118133241-941
13Crystal Palace31108133352-1938
14Southampton31106153956-1736
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3298153553-1835
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton31712123338-533
17Burnley3189142542-1733
18Fulham32511162442-1826
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom3159172859-3124
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd3242261756-3914

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