Manchester United make the trip to Selhurst Park this Wednesday to take on Crystal Palace.
Manchester United won their first home game in 78 games on Sunday, a fairly staggering statistic considering how well Mourinho tells us they have been playing. To be fair, they have been playing well recently, but I still have major reservations about this side. Alan Pardew’s side are the great entertainers, scoring goals as liberally as they concede. They are the fourth highest scorers in the Premier League with 27 goals, a stunning statistic that really underlines the defensive concerns of the club. This should make for a wonderful cat and mouse midweek fixture.
Crystal Palace v Manchester United | Wednesday 14 December | Selhurst Park | 22:00
To Win (80 Mins)
Palace 52/10 | Draw 32/10 | United 5/10
Alan Pardew is hanging by a prayer. How long will Steve Parish persist with Pardew’s coaching given that his side is perennially shipping three goals? Also, given the height in this Palace side, how is it that they are conceding so many goals from dead ball situations? Delaney and Dann have perhaps been concentrating too much on their impact in the opposite box. I saw a revealing interview with former Hammers striker Dean Ashton, who said that he loved Pardew’s training sessions because there was almost zero focus on defensive situations.
One thing about them is that they can score. Wilfried Zaha is currently in the vein of form that saw him win player of the year in the Championship. He is finally harnessing that explosive pace and having an impact on matches. Additionally, Christian Benteke has managed to pick up a few tap in’s that will have done his ailing confidence the world of good. Add Puncheon and Townsend into the mix and Herrera and Carrick could get quite badly stretched.
Mourinho has finally found some consistency in selection, although it seems as if the reborn presence of Henrik Mkhitaryan will be missed this week. The Armenian seemed to awkwardly go over on his ankle and is expected to miss their next two games. Juan Mata is the obvious creative replacement for the Armenian and he should slot down that left-hand side. Paul Pogba was actually quite imperious in that more advanced position against Spurs, almost scoring a sumptuous free-kick. A run of games in the same position will allow the enigmatic Frenchman the time to develop in a defined role.
Rojo and Jones have been excellent of late and will have the dual task of having to contain the speed and effervescence of Zaha and the strength of Benteke. Antonio Valencia has been brilliant down that right-hand side while Darmian continues to keep Shaw out of the reckoning. United will need to be watchful of Palace’s pace, but they will feel confident that they can absolutely boss that midfield area. I expect Pogba to once again impress as he grows into his role at the club.
Verdict: Total Goals over 3.5 at 9/4
I think that United could win this game 3-1 or 4-1, or potentially Pardew’s side could grind out a high scoring draw. Either way, I expect Palace to carry on conceding while Zaha and Benteke will continue to pose a threat going forward.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets