Everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s fixture:
(1) After securing their place in the EFL Cup finals on Thursday by routing Nottingham Forest on aggregate, Premier League football returns to the Old Trafford as Manchester United host Crystal Palace. Both sides face each other in the league within the span of a month, the previous encounter ending on frustrating terms for Man United after a 90th-minute Michael Olise equalizer dented their winning run.
(2) The draw at Selhurst Park was followed by Arsenal’s win over Ten Hag’s men, and again United conceded a 90th-minute goal, this time from Eddie Nketiah, leaving a sour taste to their rejuvenated form. However, since then, United have had excellent showings in the cup competitions and the team looks brushed up for the next part of the Premier League.
(3) Manchester United have won just one of their last five Premier League meetings against Crystal Palace (D2, L2), and have come out winless in their last two. Though they haven’t gone three consecutive games without a win against the South Londoners since 1970, it is certain that The Eagles are capable of frustrating The Reds considering recent times.
(4) Erik Ten Hag’s side are currently level on points with third-placed Newcastle United and three points with a game in hand clear of fifth-placed Spurs. United will aim to win all of their games before facing a stellar Barcelona side in the Europa League knockouts mid-Feb.
(5) World Cup-winning Defender Raphael Varane announced his International retirement this week as he looks set to focus entirely on his Man United career. The boss hailed Varane as one of the greats and remarked how he could now reinforce the entire United squad with his experience. Full quotes here:
(6) Erik Ten Hag reflected on new signing Marcel Sabitzer’s abilities and said that he is totally match-ready:
When asked how Sabitzer has adapted already, the boss said: “Very good. Of course, he did only one session but you can see he’s a very fit player. I didn’t have a different expectation. He’s coming from Bayern Munich. German [clubs] they are always [about] fitness, [it’s] always good. So, he is [fit]. So, I think he is ready to play.
“I think he’s a really smart player. I think we gave him some guidance but I think he knows what to do, he knows the job, so he could do [start].”
(7) Jadon Sancho and Anthony have fully recovered from their injuries and can start the match tomorrow after coming on as substitutes in United’s win against Forest. The Dutch manager suggested that Scott McTominay may not be ready for the upcoming fixture.
(8) Meanwhile, Crystal Palace approach this match on the back of a goalless draw with high-flying Newcastle United. They have shown their ability to frustrate the big teams in the league and will aim to continue to do so for the second time against United this season.
(9) The Eagles manager Patrick Vieira ruled out the involvement of top scorer Wilfried Zaha for the United match, as he said:
“Wilfried is still on the treatment table, obviously his injury will take him a couple of weeks, so we have to do without him.
“Wilfried is someone who recovers quite quickly, but we don’t want to put a date on his injury. We are just going to let him work with the medical staff and get him back as soon as possible.
(10) The former Arsenal midfielder also ruled out the presences of Nathan Ferguson, James McArthur and Joachim Anderson:
“[Nathan Ferguson and James McArthur] are progressing really well. They trained with the first-team for the last couple of weeks so they are in a really good position, but it is too short for them to be involved in the first-team at the minute. There is a protocol in place that is important for us to follow but they are doing well.
“Joachim Andersen is slowly progressing, but he is not available for the game tomorrow.”
(11) Vieira previewed the clash against a rejuvenated United side and will emphasise his team played the same way in the home reverse last month:
“They are in a really good period – they are playing well, scoring a lot of goals,” he said. “But we played them recently and we went toe-to-toe against them. We worked very hard against them, we played some good football at times but if we want a positive result we have to raise the quality of the game.
“It’s about how we play for 95 minutes as a team to compete and we have to do that to take something from it.