Key Battles: The Premier League: Manchester United vs Crystal Palace

Key Battles: The Premier League: Manchester United vs Crystal Palace

Things have never been this upbeat for Manchester United as it is now in the past few years. The Red devils, marshaled by Jose Mourinho, seemingly look ruthless in the early parts of the 2017-18 season. United not only are unbeaten in the league, but also portrayed themselves to be absolutely clinical and ruthless against oppositions. And to realize they have scored 17 and let in only 1 at home will mean anything but good news for Roy Hodgson and Crystal Palace, when they visit the red side of Manchester on Saturday. The visit to the blue side last weekend didn’t help at all as they were mauled 5-0 by Pep Guardiola’s men. Coming to Old Trafford this weekend does not promise to be anything different. At home, Manchester United have been absolutely raging, taking opponents to the sword. The way they put out oppositions like Everton, Swansea after a sluggish start to the game speaks volumes of the groundwork the Portuguese has done over the summer. The difference is being made by the influence of a whole bunch of individuals who were mediocre last season. the arrival of Namenja Matic has given the other midfielders the freedom to maraud into scathing attacks in the opposition half. The main benefactor is Henrikh Mhkitaryan. The Armenian has been lit up from the start of the season, with 6 assists and 2 goals in all competitions this term. Romelu Lukaku has been nothing less than deadly and clinical. The big Belgian has netted in 10 in 9 games in all competitions, making him the fastest United striker to reach double figures. Lukaku has been influential in United’s fiery start to their league campaign. The defense has proved to be solid. With David de Gea holding guard between the sticks, the likes of Jones and Bailly have become solid and impassable, with Antonio Valencia providing some skilled fullback runs down the right channel. Anthony Martial, though he hasn’t been starting, has scored 5 and set up 6 already this season. The Frenchman has been lethal in the limited game time he’s getting this season, recently scoring 1 and assisting 3 in United’s big win at Moscow in the Champions League. With a solid backbone developed, united look hard to put away. Crystal Palace, who have scored 0 goals this season in the league, will be praying that they don’t suffer yet another goal rout on Saturday. Some key showdowns on field will decide the outcome of what seemingly looks to be a one sided affair at Old Trafford.

1. Romelu Lukaku vs Mamadou Sakho

Well, these two certainly have a history. Both have been on opposite sides of Merseyside, and their encounters over the years have been fiery and entertaining nonetheless. Romelu Lukaku has been in blistering form, having scored already 6 in 6 in the league, currently the joint top scorer, along with Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Morata. The Belgium striker will be keen to score more at Old Trafford on Saturday against a side with the leakiest defense in the league so far. Expect the two to go at it again, toe to toe. Hands down, Lukaku the favorite to come out trumps in this fiery duel with the ex- Liverpool man. Lukaku to bag another brace in this!

2. The Palace midfield Vs Namenja Matic

Manchester United have been lacking a solid holding midfielder for quite some time now. With Carrick ageing away, United needed a personality who can control the midfield with ease. the arrival of Tiemue Bakayoko at Chelsea flushed out Namenja Matic. United pounced and the results have been incredible. The Serbian’s positioning, ¬†defensive awareness, and not to forget, his incredible range of passing has given the license to maraud forward for the likes of Paul Pogba, Antonio Valencia and Ander Herrera. The Serbian’s calm presence in front of his defense has lead to them conceding only 2 so far in the league. the 40M price tag is now starting to look like a bargain. On Satruday, he will look to provide the same cover to united’s backline as they look to neutralize an insecure Crystal Palace side. Expect the ‘Spider’ to hold off the entire Palace midfield singehandedly on Saturday.

3. Antonio Valencia vs Patrick van Aanholt

Captain Valencia let out a thunderbolt against Everton when United last played in the Premier League at Old Trafford. The Ecuador International has been reinvented at fullback, making his transition from right winger to right back look seamless. The tank like defender, with decent attacking capabilities, is a gem on and off the ball. His seething runs and pin point crosses in attack is a value added asset to Jose Mourinho. He will be up against Patrick van Aanholt on Saturday. The Dutchman known for scoring goals, will be wary of the Ecuadorian’s knack of making lightning quick runs. With Valencia tipped to captain the side again ,expect him to boss the right flank, offensively and defensively.

Palace are the first club in English League history to lose their opening six games of a league season without scoring. The basement boys could also become only the second team in Premier League history to go eight or more games without scoring – interestingly the only other team to suffer such a run was Crystal Palace in 1994/95.

Roy Hodgson’s men face a Manchester United team going for their fourth straight home Premier League win this season. They have also yet to concede in wins over West Ham, Leicester and Swansea.

 

Mark Ephraim
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Mark Ephraim

Big Manchester United Fan, a prudent writer and a passionate Photographer!
Mark Ephraim
Follow me

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mark-ephraim

Big Manchester United Fan, a prudent writer and a passionate Photographer!