Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United host Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon in a must win game at Old Trafford. The Reds have not won a game since beating Everton 2-1 at the start of October and following last weekend’s defeat in the Manchester derby the pressure is slowly starting to build on the management team. Crystal Palace come into the game having not won in four games themselves and if United are to even consider themselves as contenders for a top four position then it is a game they really should be winning.
United still have injury troubles galore is the defensive areas with Marcos Rojo now unavailable for six weeks after dislocating his shoulder last weekend and both Jonny Evans and Phil Jones still remain sidelined. Chris Smalling is also unavailable following his careless red card in the derby and Radamel Falcao also remains unavailable due to injury. Finally, Rafael Da Silva is also a major doubt for the game and with all this considered here’s how the Red’s might take to the field against Neil Warnock’s side:
David De Gea will hope to celebrate turning 24 on Friday with three points against the London side. The Spaniard has been on good form lately and as per normal he will be the first name on the team sheet.
With a heap of injury troubles and Chris Smalling suspended, Van Gaal doesn’t exactly have a wide range of options at the back tomorrow. Rafael is a major doubt so Antonio Valencia will undoubtedly continue at right-back whilst Luke Shaw will be confident of starting again in the left-back position.
In the centre of defence I expect the manager to go with with youngster Paddy McNair. The 19-year-old has impressed many so far this season and he was summoned from the bench last Sunday following Marcos Rojo’s unfortunate injury. Alongside McNair I expect Van Gaal to opt with the composed and experienced Michael Carrick. The Englishman will hopefully add a bit of stability and assurance to a makeshift back four. His performance could be vital tomorrow.
Daley Blind will be a certainty to start in the middle of the park, the Dutchman will be a key figure in helping protect United’s makeshift back four. Alongside the number 17 I have a feeling the manager may recall Ander Herrera to the side in favour of Maroune Fellaini with the Belgian very fortunate not to have given away a couple of penalties last weekend with some careless tackles on Aguero in the box. There will be no room for carelessness tomorrow.
Record signing Angel Di Maria will be a guaranteed starter and I expect him to feature on the left-hand side, the number 7 has been relatively quiet in the last two encounters against Manchester City and Chelsea. Finally, on the right-hand side Adnan Januzaj should be handed another chance to impress. The winger was unfortunate to get dragged off early last weekend, falling victim to Chris Smalling’s stupidity.
With Wayne Rooney returning to the side last weekend he will undoubtedly be in the side tomorrow despite a number of United’s support judging the England striker as undeserving of his place in the side. Radamel Falcao is still unavailable and Robin Van Persie still seems to be struggling to find anywhere near his best form so I have a sneaky suspicion that young James Wilson could be in line for a start against Crystal Palace.
Predicted Starting XI:
(1) De Gea;
(25) Valencia, (16) Carrick, (33) McNair, (3) Shaw;
(17) Blind, (22) Herrera;
(11) Januzaj, (7) Di Maria;