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Starting XI: Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United

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The Reds take their twenty-match unbeaten road streak to south London

Manchester United v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Everything that you need to know ahead of Wednesday’s match:

(1) Manchester United travel to Selhurst Park this week hoping to avenge their opening day defeat to Crystal Palace. Andros Townsend struck in the seventh minute to hand Roy Hodgson’s side the early lead, before a late Wilfried Zaha double finished off the hapless Reds. Thankfully, United’s league fortunes have improved immensely since.

(2) Controversy at the Bridge: Manchester United drew 0-0 at Chelsea on Sunday, though that decent result has been overshadowed by Stuart Attwell’s decision not to award the Reds a penalty for an apparent handball by Callum Hudson-Odoi. In a season where it seems like every hint of contact between hand and ball in the box has resulted in a penalty, United will understandably feel extremely unlucky to head home with just one point.

(3) For the Chelsea draw, Manchester United got a big boost with the healthy returns of Scott McTominay, Daniel James, and Donny van de Beek. That leaves Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, and Juan Mata still sidelined with injuries.

(4) Cavani, though, popped up on Instagram with an optimistic update that has raised hopes that he could return at Crystal Palace.

Translation: “Looking forward to coming back soon...”

(5) Solskjaer on the penalty situation:

We should have had a penalty — that’s clear — and I’m a bit concerned we don’t get those penalties after what noises were made a month or two ago about us getting penalties. Clearly, there is a point of managers influencing the referees, which they shouldn’t do.

(6) Slowly, but surely, Crystal Palace are learning to do without Wilfried Zaha. Up until a week ago, they had lost eighteen of the last twenty matches played without their star attacker over the past few seasons. But, with Zaha still sidelined by a hamstring injury since early last month, Palace picked up four points last week. The 28-year-old is back in training, though he remains doubtful for Wednesday.

(7) Even though Palace are grounding out results of late, it hasn’t been pretty in Zaha’s absence. They’ve only scored twice in the last four matches and managed no shots on goal in Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Fulham. Despite a decent amount of attacking talent like Eberechi Eze, Michy Batshuayi, Christian Benteke, and Jordan Ayew, the goals dry up without Zaha.

(8) Roy Hodgson’s contract expires at season’s end and just about everyone expects Crystal Palace to move on rather than extending the 73-year-old’s tenure at Selhurst Park. It’s a gamble: Hodgson has firmly established Palace as a Premier League team with relatively little risk of relegation in recent seasons, even if the style of play (or lack thereof) leaves a lot to be desired.

(9) Future star: 21-year-old Tyrick Mitchell recently signed a new four-year contract at Crystal Palace that ends Arsenal’s interest in the young left-back. The one-time Brentford academy product moved to Palace in 2016 and splits time with Patrick van Aanholt in defense. PVA, though, can read the writing on the wall and looks likely to leave this summer in response to Mitchell’s ascendancy.

(10) Roy Hodgson ain’t happy about this match being moved forward due to Manchester United’s FA Cup progress:

The Manchester United game that has been thrust upon us is obviously something we’re pretty unhappy about, especially in this current state of affairs where we do have so many of our good players, our first team players, unavailable. It’s pretty tough to have to play Man United now and then get three weeks off when we don’t need three weeks off.

I’d have much preferred if this game had stayed where it was. But it’s part and parcel, I guess, of being in the Premier League, being involved in cup competitions. The powers that be feel the need to move games — sometimes it will suit a team and sometimes it won’t. But I’ve got to say, the game coming up on Wednesday definitely doesn’t suit us.

(11) Last week, Crystal Palace celebrated a proud anniversary: