The FourFourTwo Preview: Man United vs Crystal Palace
David Moyes’ first must-win match of the season.
Manchester United may not have started the new season in electric form, but that shouldn’t necessarily be cause for great concern. David Moyes’ Everton often started seasons slowly before coming good as winter approached, while United didn’t always fly out of the traps under Sir Alex Ferguson in what was a moderately successful era.
- Liverpool 1-0 Man United (Prem)
- Man United 0-0 Chelsea (Prem)
- Swansea 1-4 Man United (Prem)
- Palace 3-1 Sunderland (Prem)
- Bristol City 2-1 Palace (LC)
- Stoke 2-1 Palace (Prem)
That’s not to say this won’t be a pressure game for United’s ‘Chosen One’, given this is perhaps the first competitive match he will be expected to win convincingly. He’ll therefore be pleased to see one of his most trusted lieutenants from his Everton days now at his disposal in the form of Marouane Fellaini. He also has Wilfried Zaha, who could make his Premier League debut against his former club.
There’s already a touch of discontent at Selhurst Park, with two players signed over the summer – Stephen Dobbie and Florian Marange – left out of Palace’s 25-man Premier League squad by virtue of the club signing an almost literal shedload of players during the transfer window. The Frenchman (that’s not Dobbie…) told French newspaper L’Equipe that he was disgusted by his treatment. The whole affair is rather curious, given Eagles owner Steve Parrish made such a point of highlighting how prudent his club would be.
United will hope to have Phil Jones and Wayne Rooney back from the ankle and head injuries that saw them avoid having to play in England’s snooze-fest in Ukraine on Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, it’s not been a great few days for Palace, injury-wise, with promising midfield Jonny Williams (ankle ligaments) and recently-signed right-back Jack Hunt (broken ankle) looking likely to be sidelined for at least four months
Player to watch: Nani (Manchester United)
Nani may not have enjoyed a particularly successful 12 months on a personal level, but there’s no doubting he’s a wide player who can cause full-backs plenty of strife when on his game. He returned from injury against Liverpool last time out, as David Moyes looked to inject some much needed attacking guile. It didn’t work out that way, but Palace’s Dean Moxey will need to perform as well as he did against Tottenham’s Aaron Lennon on the opening weekend of the season if the Portuguese is to be kept quiet.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Man United 1-2 Crystal Palace (League Cup, Nov 11)
- Crystal Palace 0-0 Man United (Prem, Mar 05)
- Man United 5-2 Crystal Palace (Prem, Dec 04)
- Man United 2-0 Crystal Palace (League Cup, Nov 04)
- Crystal Palace 0-3 Man United (Prem, Apr 98)
The first time David Moyes and Ian Holloway locked managerial horns was an FA Cup First Round meeting between Bristol Rovers and Preston North End at The Memorial Stadium in October 1999. Both men have come a long way since, and the crowd at Old Trafford will be some way higher than the 6,000 who watched Moyes’ Preston scrape a 1-0 victory that was the onset of a cup run that ironically ended at Goodison Park four rounds later. The Scot has won five and drawn one of the pair’s six meetings to date.
Facts and figures
- Man United have failed to score in two successive Premier League games for the first time since August 2007.
- Crystal Palace have collected just 25 points from their last 24 league games away from home (excluding play-offs).
- In picking up those 25 points away from home in the Championship, Palace had the 15th best away record in the second tier.
- The Eagles won on their last competitive trip to Old Trafford to face the Red Devils; 2-1 in a League Cup tie in November 2011.
- Marouane Fellaini (151) won more aerial challenges in the Premier League last season than the 11 midfielders that played for Man United combined (94).
- David Moyes’ side are yet to score in the opening 30 minutes of their matches this season. In 2012/13, Man United scored a league-high 33 goals during the first half hour.
- Ryan Giggs has never scored against Crystal Palace in the Premier League (seven appearances). Leicester City (12) are the only team he has appeared against more and not scored against.
- When manager of Blackpool, Ian Holloway saw his side score twice in both Premier League matches against Man United yet still lose both games.
- At Old Trafford, Man United last failed to score in consecutive home games back in August 2007.
- Middlesbrough (3-2 in 1998/99) were the last newly-promoted side to win at Old Trafford in the league.
Palace to start well, but the champions to end up relatively comfortable winners. 3-0.