Manchester United’s easing injury troubles
It looked for a while that an injury crisis might limit Mourinho’s options for this clash, but while one or two remain sidelined, there has been good news in that regard. Victor Lindelof recovered from illness to help Sweden to a 2-0 victory over Russia in a goal-scoring performance that saw his side win their UEFA Nations League group. Further, Marouane Fellaini has featured in training after withdrawing from Belgium’s squad over the international break, while Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial are expected to start from the off. The latter is now halfway to Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of finding the net in 10 consecutive league matches, and would be just the fourth player of ours to score in six consecutive league matches should he find – placing him in esteemed company.
Marcus Rashford is a doubt after limping off against Croatia, though the striker was unlikely to bag a place in the starting line-up anyway – especially after Jesse Lingard eclipsed him for the Three Lions with a decisive, goal-scoring performance.
The return to fitness of Martial is of greater importance and as the main source of goals at present, the Frenchman represents great value to find his way onto the scoresheet with Romelu Lukaku a major doubt.
Alexis Sanchez scored twice over the international break to take his tally for the national side to 41 goals and that also offers hope. These weren’t vintage performances from the Chilean as he missed penalties in both matches against Costa Rica and Honduras, scoring from the rebound against the latter, but while his goal against the former was somewhat scrappy he did show lovely technique to take a ball over the top down on his chest. However, the real benefit of deploying Sanchez alongside Martial and Lingard against the Eagles is the extra mobility he brings to the forward role than Lukaku. Indeed, Palace have shown some fight despite their poor results and will be more frightened of attackers that interchange position than a big man up top they can battle with.
Crystal Palace suffering worse problems with absentees ahead of United clash
Full-backs could be a weak spot for us, but with Christian Benteke and Connor Wickham out for the Eagles, even though Wilfried Zaha has surprisingly declared himself fit, he’ll be utilized down the middle. Luke Shaw’s suspension should ensure that Ashley Young at left back and whoever starts between Dalot and Valencia at right-back are more likely to spend time in the opposition half than in their own on the back foot.
Palace also have problems at the back as Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Mamadou Sakho are both doubts, with the former expected to start while the latter misses out. Wan-Bissaka will need to be fully sharp to handle Martial however, while Sakho was injured in a friendly against Uruguay on his first international appearance since March 2016. Since the centre-backed signed for the Eagles, they’ve lost just 39% of games that he’s started compared with 54% where he’s been absent, while they’ve conceded 1.26 goals per game with him compared to 1.58 without.
Palace head into this encounter having lost eight of their last 11 outings and since Roy Hodgson took over from the brief tenure of Frank de Boer, Palace have gone W1-D2-L12 when facing ‘Big Six’ opponents. All three positive results came at Selhurst Park, while their six road trips in this time have produced an aggregate score of 19-3 as they lost them all. That includes a 4-0 loss in this fixture last term, and with that in mind, we look good value to win by at least two clear goals.